This series is all about equipping our kids for the future with a sense of wonder, adventure, joy and encouragement. Today’s topic is a discussion around project based learning – what project based learning really is, plus resources and ideas for how to incorporate it into your homeschool.
What Is Project Based Learning?
Project-based learning is an opportunity help kids build knowledge and skills through engaging projects. These projects are usually set up around challenges and problems they may face in the real world.
This is a broad definition, so let’s break it down a little bit further. In project based learning, you begin with the problem or the challenge that’s going on in your child’s world.
Maybe our city doesn’t have a recycle program and we want to create one. How do we go about that? Do we petition the city council? Do we just start collecting cans door to door? What do we do to create a recycling problem from a recycling program from scratch?
You are starting with the problem. Then, you’re working backwards through all the steps.
It may sound complex, but I want you to know that project based learning is not adding more to your already full plate. It’s rearranging your plate a little bit so that the different components make sense and work together to create the content that your kids need to know or learn relevant to their everyday life. It’s an opportunity to give kids knowledge and skills through engaging projects.
I think one of the biggest things that we learn as homeschoolers over time, is that the idea that we get from the public school model, that all subjects have to live on their own is a disservice to our kids. It falsely teaches them that everything is compartmentalized.
History is history. Science is science. Math is math. Reading is reading. Writing is writing. But the truth of the matter is that reading goes through everything in learning and in life, right? Part of science is learning about the scientists who created stuff and why. This is all about history and what was going on at the time of these discoveries, Math and writing can be involved in all of those academic different areas.
Project-based learning gives us the opportunity to let it all overlap, almost like spaghetti noodles. Weaving in and out, tangling together so that it’s richer and more relevant. I would suggest that people learn better when it’s all mixed together like this and is relevant to their lives.
Project Based vs. Problem Based Learning
What is the difference between project based learning and problem based learning?
If you look it up on Google or in any search engine, you’re likely going to find them used interchangeably. While I think there are some slight differences, the reality is, both operate from the same basic learning model.
Let me give you an example.
When I decided to start the podcast, I knew nothing about podcasting. I had never recorded my own voice or edited an audio track. I didn’t know how to deal with hosts or how to get it on Apple iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. I didn’t know what software to use. So, I dove in my problem.
My project was getting this podcast off the ground. I worked backwards. What do I need to know? Well, I need to know how to get it out there. I needed to know how to record, so what equipment did I need? What software did I need?
I watched YouTube videos. I asked questions of friends of mine who had podcasts. I read articles online. I took a course that was created by an existing podcaster. I dove deeply into the idea of my project, creating a podcast and getting it out there.
I figured it out.
Eventually, it also gave me the confidence to help other people who were wondering how to create a podcast. My learning came full circle and I was able to teach others.
It began with a problem that I needed to solve. The project was how I learned to fix the problem.
Future Proofing Our Kids With Project Based Learning
Project based learning may seem intimidating, but it’s more important now than ever before. We don’t know exactly what the future holds. We now have robots that dance and businesses that have totally pivoted their methodology to online delivery services. We have restaurants who are operating now on with a tiny amount of employees because they don’t open their dining room. We have the ability to get products from all over the world and learn information at lightening speed. Many of these things weren’t even a thought even a couple of years ago.
We want our kids to be confident in their own ability to learn so that whenever they want to learn something or know something or do something, they feel capable of doing it. This is the best possible preparation for an unknown future. Project based learning gives them a chance to practice this in very real ways.
Recommendations For Project Based Learning
There are some programs that do project based learning for you. They throw a project or problem at your kiddo and let them figure it out. These are some of my favorites.
I have talked a lot about Synthesis in the last few months. They’re not only one of our sponsors, they are my source for project based learning in my homeschool.
Synthesis is great at this. They throw the kids into a problem and support them as they work to solve the problem. The project itself becomes a conversation between the kids, and the resulting collaboration allows for real life skills practice.
Prodigy Math is similar. program that we have used in the past. They have a lot of projects and problems that your kids can get in, get messy with and solve.
These programs engage kids. They get them excited about their learning.
All project based learning does this because it’s not another worksheet. It’s not another box to check kids feel engaged. They feel active, and they feel like they have a say in their learning. It makes a difference because it’s fun and they enjoy it.
Lesson Plans For Project Based Learning
If you’re searching for lesson plans to use as starting points, these resources can help.
These are all great places to start!
Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast #152: Project Based Learning For Gifted Kids
This series is all about equipping our kids for the future with a sense of wonder, adventure, joy and encouragement. Today’s topic is a discussion around project based learning. Colleen defines what project based learning really is, and shares resources and ideas for how to incorporate it into your homeschool.
Links And Resources From Today’s Show:
- SPONSOR: Synthesis
- SPONSOR: The Learners Lab
- The Best Advice I Can Give You: Become A Student Of Your Child
- Future Proofing Our Kids In An Ever Changing World
- Play-Based Learning In Your Homeschool: It’s More Than Just Board Games
- Edutopia, PBL
- The Tech Advocate
- Project Foundry
- EDU curious
- Ted Ed.
- RLL #101: Project-Based Learning with Cindy West
- Interest-Led Homeschooling and Your Gifted Child
- Homeschool Curriculum for Your Asynchronous Gifted Learner
- The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Gifted Children
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