Martin Moron Lead Designer Upper School at the Bennet School
Project-based learning is an instructional methodology that enables students to “learn by doing.” Martin Moran is the lead designer and Upper School Director for the Bennett Day School, where the education is built around the creation of cooperative learning environments. While Mr. Moran works mainly at the high school level, he stressed that the process of project-based learning is applicable at any level. The specific steps involved are provocation, question storming, preparation, project, and completion.
Provocation. Project-based learning begins with questions. The object is to spark curiosity and have students ask questions as opposed to the teacher telling them what it is they need to know. This step is geared toward sparking creativity.
Question Stormingcontinues the questioning process within a group of students and helps to provide a diagnostic tool for the teacher, who can take the questions asked and frame them in the context of what they want to teach. This step clarifies a learning outcome.
Preparationinvolves further questions, the grouping of questions into subjects, and the development of a project idea based on the questions raised. The goal here is to build capacity (i.e., abilities, skills, expertise).
Project. At this point, students go to work in teams to design and drive the chosen project. Where necessary, the teacher is available to guide and develop pertinent lessons, but the objective here is collaborative design.
Completion.Public demonstration of completed projects is one of the main points of project-based learning. The object here is to create accountability.
Project-based learning is applicable at all levels of instruction, albeit with modifications for specific situations. Various techniques are available to aid with the question formulation process, but perhaps the most challenging aspect is identifying learning outcomes. Once this is defined, teachers connect the desired learning outcome to the questions formulated by the students. This process results in a student who is a logical thinker, a problem solver, a self-regulated learner, a strategic thinker, and a globally competent citizen.
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