Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brief Guide to Vocabulary for Project Based Learning

While I've been using Project Based Learning since my second year as a public school teacher some 14 years ago, I have only recently learned the vocabulary to describe the practices I find so effective.

Thanks to BIE.org for standardizing and publicizing this terminology. So here's what we do (and don't) say to describe our practices. A big shout out to a certain nearby Project Based Learning elementary school for giving me a few new words and helping refine my understanding of Project Based Learning in the elementary school as well. I would tell you the name of said school, but they are already overrun with visitors. (You can ask me again next school year.)

To begin with, Project Based Learning is not a regular noun, it's a gerund, like "caring" or "running." You can't "have" it or "hold" it because it's verb-like. Thus . . .

Don't say: This is my PBL.  Instead say, "This is my project."
Don't say: This is my students' PBL. Instead say, "This is my student's project."

But say: The more I learn about PBL, the more I like it.
And: PBL is the theory that makes the most sense to me.
Also: I have been hearing a lot about PBL lately.
Or say: My school is embracing PBL.
There are many more terms associated with Project Based Learning. Please put your favorites (or the most important ones I left out) in the comments for this article, and you will soon see them appear on this document.

P.S. There are many great resources for learning more about the theory and practice of Project Based Learning, including Edutopia's Project Based Learning Beat and their excellent YouTube Channel. As far as books, go, I'd love a good recommendation. While I just started reading this one, it's the best I've seen so far and the closest to my own self-developed theory, which means I like it a lot.

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