Gieve Draper
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The Definition of Project Based Learning in Schools

Project-based learning (PBL) is a model for classroom activity that shifts away from the classroom practices of short, isolated, teacher-centered lessons and instead emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary, student-centered, and integrated with real world issues and practices.

One immediate benefit of practicing PBL is the unique way that it can motivate students by engaging them in their own learning. PBL provides opportunities for students to pursue their own interests and questions and make decisions about how they will find answers and solve problems.

PBL also provides opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Students apply and integrate the content of different subject areas at authentic moments in the production process, instead of in isolation or in an artificial setting.

PBL helps make learning relevant and useful to students by establishing connections to life outside the classroom, addressing real world concerns, and developing real world skills. Many of the skills learned through PBL are those desired by today's employer, including the ability to work well with others, make thoughtful decisions, take initiative, and solve complex problems.

In the classroom, PBL provides many unique opportunities for teachers to build relationships with students. Teachers may fill the varied roles of coach, facilitator, and co-learner. Finished products, plans, drafts, and prototypes all make excellent "conversation pieces" around which teachers and students can discuss the learning that is taking place.

In the school and beyond, PBL also provides opportunities for teachers to build relationships with each other and with those in the larger community. Student work-which includes documentation of the learning process as well as the students' final projects-can be shared with other teachers, parents, mentors, and the business community who all have a stake in the students' education.

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