Taking small steps towards project-based learning

October 21, 2021
Teachers work on a project-based learning project

While it might seem overwhelming to bring a new teaching practice like project-based learning into your classroom, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman writes in EdWeek along with Zachary Herrmann, the Executive Director of the Center for Professional Learning and Sarah Schneider Kavanagh, an Assistant Professor at Penn GSE. The authors compare it with becoming a runner, and note that even a few short runs can have a measurable impact on your health. “Similarly, project-based learning—an approach to teaching in which students create real solutions to real problems—can start with taking the equivalent of a five-minute run every day,” they write.

Authenticity is one of the key tenets of project-based learning. In the piece, Grossman, Herrmann, and Kavanagh offer three ways to build more authentic learning experiences for students. First, they suggest finding connections to students’ lives, noting that much work that is assigned in school is disconnected from everyday life. “In an English/language arts class, students might explore how the themes in a novel resonate (or don’t) with their own lived experiences,” they offer as an example.

For more advice on bringing authenticity into the classroom, check out their tips in EdWeek’s Teach Like a Runner: 3 Ways to Get Started With Project-Based Learning.

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