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Project-Based Learning Activities: Types & Examples

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  • 0:02 Why Project-Based Learning?
  • 0:35 Social Justice and…
  • 1:30 Art and Performance Projects
  • 2:30 Integrative Learning Projects
  • 3:14 Technology…
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns
Project-based learning is a great way to engage students in authentic application of knowledge and skills. This lesson gives you some ideas for different kinds of project-based learning activities you can incorporate into the classroom.

Why Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is a teaching approach that engages students in hands-on activities and experiences that help them generate and apply new concepts and skills. Students of all ages can work on in-depth projects over time, growing excited about their learning while gaining an important understanding of how the things they learn in school are relevant to their lives.

Project-based learning is effective, stimulating, and often just as much fun for teachers as for students. In this lesson, Principal Johnson will introduce you to some types of project-based learning activities teachers use in his school.

Social Justice and Community Service Projects

Principal Johnson encourages teachers to engage students in social justice and community service projects that are age appropriate to their classes. Third grade teachers enhance their social studies curriculum about Native Americans by having their students research current issues impacting Native Americans on reservations. The students engage in letter-writing campaigns and make posters educating others in their community about helping impoverished reservations.

Fifth grade teachers at Principal Johnson's school enrich their science curriculum on ecosystems by researching issues that impact their local ecosystem, like pollution and industrial waste. These students design projects such as trash clean-ups and organizing carpools to limit the use of automobiles.

Social justice and community service projects can integrate literacy, social studies, science, math, and interpersonal skills while empowering students to make a difference in the world.

Art and Performance Projects

Principal Johnson also knows that many students learn best when art is incorporated into their daily lives, so he encourages teachers to weave art and performance projects into their units of study. The kindergarteners work over time to write and perform in skits about two- and three-dimensional shapes! Parents love watching their five-year-olds dressing up as pyramids and rectangles, and each year the teachers are impressed by how doing a performance builds community and helps students internalize knowledge.

The fourth graders at Principal Johnson's school do author studies as part of their reading curriculum. The teachers in this grade have designed a complex project in which students construct sculptures that showcase attributes of their assigned author's writing. They display their projects art-gallery style and host an evening to share their creative processes.

Integrating the arts into learning is especially important in schools where art programs are under-resourced, and art lends itself beautifully to project-based learning across the content areas.

Integrative Learning Projects

One exciting aspect of project-based learning is its ability to integrate subject matter from a variety of content areas so that students gain an understanding of how different branches of knowledge work together. Principal Johnson encourages teachers to design integrative learning projects, or projects that bring together concepts and skills from two or more different subjects. Some strategies he advocates for integrative learning include:

  • Having students read and write extensively about whatever they are studying
  • Incorporating measurement or statistics as a way of including mathematics in any project
  • Thinking about how this topic was approached at different points in history
  • Thinking about what jobs or careers involve the topic and the variety of skills entailed

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