Putting the SEL into PBL

Project-based learning (PBL) and social emotional learning (SEL) are a perfect match; here’s why

In project-based learning (PBL), teachers present students with a real-world problem and challenge them to solve the problem through research and inquiry, often collaborating with each another and producing a final product that encompasses everything they have learned. The project relates back to the standards and learning objectives teachers are covering, but in a more tangible way. Often, PBL will naturally integrate objectives from a variety of subjects within the same project.

The Buck Institute for Education outlines seven essential components for project-based learning:

  1. a strong student activator
  2. a driving question
  3. opportunities for student voice and choice
  4. 21st-century skills
  5. time for inquiry and innovation
  6. feedback and revision
  7. a publicly presented final product.

Learn more about these seven essentials here.

The benefits of PBL

PBL not only makes instruction more meaningful for students; it helps them develop the skills they will need to be successful in their post-secondary lives and careers. Here are four benefits of PBL:

1. Opportunities for differentiation
One of the seven essential elements is student voice and choice, which naturally leads to more differentiation. Students can choose the topic they want to focus on within the main driving questions, which resources they want to use, and which type of product/output they’d like to develop. Additionally, they will spend much of their time doing independent research or group inquiry. This setup gives the teacher the time and space to meet with individual students and small groups to provide more specialized instruction.

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