Project-based learning done right

“The kids loved the song,” Bitton said. “So many of them were downloading it.” Their music video premiered at The Compass’s end-of-the-year showcase, which featured multiple projects from all of the participating classes.

Public project presentations are an important part of project-based learning. Students become more serious about the quality of their work when they have to present it to an audience, Larmer said. The first use of the project approach to teaching was in the early 1900s, Larmer said.

The idea wavered in popularity throughout the 20th century and recently regained traction, as teachers began to realize they could use “creative teaching methods” without having their test scores suffer, he added. Technology has also been responsible for its recent popularity. With all of the technology and information available at students’ fingertips, they are less willing to just sit and listen to a teacher lecture, Larmer said.

Other than using Youtube, Schulson and Bitton also used Pinterest as the inspiration for a project. A homemade “Pinterest board” created from a refrigerator box that had scrolling features and displayed information about Florida’s environmental issues was also on display at The Compass showcase.

“People use Pinterest all the time,” Bitton said, adding that they wanted to show students that the social media outlet could be used as an educational resource. Schulson also used Google Plus Hangouts in her classroom. Every week for one semester, the class connected face-to-face with a Florida home building company representative who explained different stages of the building process through live video call.

“The project took skills learned in school, like measuring, problem solving and persuasive writing, and applied it to real world situations,” Schulson said.

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