Balancing Approaches for PBL Success


Having done Project Based Learning for nine years, I can say a few things with certainty. The most important thing I can say is that I have made every mistake that can be made, more than once.

With my pure and good intentions of providing students with an exciting, free, and authentic learning environment, I have occasionally lost sight of the importance of this true fact: good teaching is good teaching. (The opposite is also true.) Having always valued variety and an element of excitement in my learning, there were times when “lecture” and “worksheet” were taboo topics; likewise, in the pragmatic, rooted in reality world that PBL can be, certain awesome activities from my past were shoved in the closet for years.

I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum, multiple times. I have ended up in the middle. I suppose that experience is the best teacher. But if you’re starting out on a PBL journey, remember these three guiding principles. My hope is that they keep you grounded and help you sustain this approach as well as help your students ease into it with you.  

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