Viewpoint on PBL: What Students Say


We are Miles, Gaby, Ethan, Lauren, Madison, and Aiden from Novi Community Schools District, in Michigan.

What we do we have in common? We were really lucky to have Project Based Learning teachers.  Some of us are still in Project Based Learning classrooms and love it. Some of us have moved to more traditional classrooms. (It’s different. We like our teachers but miss PBL.) 

Individually, we answered a simple question “Why do you like PBL?”

Shhh…It’s a secret! We’re thinking.  by Madison, 4th grade
I love PBL because it’s like a secret. There’s so much learning but you don’t realize it. The teachers help us but students do most of the thinking. Sometimes, we think so much that our heads hurt. We are the ones doing the projects and the teachers guide us through the hard work but they don’t tell us the answers. They ask us more and more questions to help us think. Did I mention that PBL isn’t easy? … But it’s so fun! I recommend it to every student!

“Need to Know” Nibbles  by Gaby, 6th grade
In PBL we had “Need to Knows” that gave us a nibble of what we were going to discover in our projects. After our teacher introduced the driving question or challenge to do the project, we asked questions about what we “needed to know” to answer the driving question. The learning came from the questions. Did I mention I love questions? They push us farther than we expect to go. It makes us dig deeper into the unknown. The best part of asking questions is finding the answers.

In a traditional classroom, I wasn’t motivated to talk about school past the classroom walls. What I love about PBL is that I’m excited! It’s fun and I wanted to share every moment with my family and friends. Who wouldn’t?

PBL spells F-U-N!  by Lauren, 5th grade
PBL is F-U-N!  You get to learn lots of cool stuff. It’s not about one boring thing. You get to learn about topics across subjects. You don’t have to work on four subjects at four different times. You can combine your learning. It’s less stressful.

I felt like I learned more about the topic through a project than doing worksheets. The social studies test at the end of the unit was easy for me. Guess what? I knew more than the test! Our whole class passed the test. We knew the facts but we also learned how to connect those facts and think things through.

In PBL, you get to work with new people and have collaboration. You don’t have to work all alone. It’s not so fun being by your self. Learning about others and what they bring to the group is important. It isn’t always easy to work with everyone, but that’s the real world. The way I see it is this. I might as well learn it all now while I’m still young.

More-than-just-a-grade Production by Ethan, 6th grade

PBL is hands on. Every part of your body gets to be part of the learning. You always get to work with something besides a sheet of paper. There are times where you can use technology like a laptop and then you get to watch “magic” happen. When you work with others to make a creation, technology adds something else to your project that helps make it real.

It’s also more than just a grade. It’s more than learning how to get a grade and pass a test. PBL is a production from start to finish. Getting it right was so important. In a more traditional classroom, the teacher was the only person to see my work. With a public audience, the stakes are high. Making it better and not letting my group down became a priority. Our final product and presentation became something my group and our audience would treasure and value.

All in it TOGETHER  by Aiden, 1st grade
PBL is challenging because you have to work TOGETHER. If you have a problem, you have to figure it out TOGETHER. Everybody has great ideas and you have to pick the best out of the group TOGETHER. You also learn from your mistakes TOGETHER. We get to share with people all over the world about what we are learning TOGETHER. You have to make it perfect and it makes us work harder TOGETHER. I have to have a good attitude so we can accomplish our goals TOGETHER.   

“No Target” Driving Questions  by Miles, 6th grade
In Project Based Learning, the driving question literally guides us to our end goal through a project. When I was in 4th grade, the driving question kept me on track. Now in a traditional classroom, we don’t have driving questions. We have learning targets. I don’t like them as much as driving questions. Why? With learning targets, sometimes the targets don’t match what you’re learning. If they do, you eventually meet the target and then you’re done. Does that mean learning stops? With a driving question, we can meet it but you can go farther and it’s ok. I miss those driving questions. Even though, I don’t have Project Based Learning units this year, I sometimes make my own driving questions to help me out.

PBL is a very REAL life way of bringing REAL learning into a classroom. It allows me to share my thinking.

PBL starts with an idea and is presented with a driving question. This question is the motivation for introducing the unit and reminds students what and why we are learning. It is this same question that drives a team of student leaders to start their amazing journey.

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