Monday, 5 May 2014

Top 4 project-based learning websites

Join the PBL revolution with this selection of websites and online resources to support all aspects of project planning, management and more.

Successful project-based learning takes a lot of planning beforehand and management throughout for it to have the greatest impact they can – and that’s not an easy feat.

Luckily, though, thanks to the recent PBL revolution across the pond, which we’re now seeing beginning to seep into British education practice, there’s an abundance of help and guidance available online. 

An overabundance it may seem, which is why we've selected what we think are the 4 best online sources of information on project-based learning for you to peruse at leisure. 

All key stages

Definitely your first port of call for all things project-based learning, there’s an astonishing amount of resources available on this site – and it’s all free!

More unique resources include:
  • archived Twitterchats using the hashtag #PBLChat
  • archived webinars on a diverse range of topics, including managing the day-to-day running of your project and authentically integrating STEM subjects
  • recorded Google Hangouts - interviews and group chats between staff at BIE and teachers from different schools on various aspects of PBL, all recorded using the instant messaging and video chat platform, Google Hangouts.

Another great tool on this website is the Project Planner, which provides an interactive online framework to use during the first stages of your project planning.

All key stages

According to the site itself, its aim is ‘to offer practitioners useful, easily adaptable models of real projects’. These seven projects are outlined in great detail and include downloadable rubrics, resources and worksheets. 

Projects include examining how an idea can be transformed into a moneymaking product, using theatre to explore the controversies of the Vietnam War, and building a scale model of a tree for a citywide urban art project, exploring how maths and science influence artistic expression.

Key Stages 2-5

Under ‘PBL tools’, you’ll find one of the best and most comprehensive PBL planning resources I’ve come across – the WVDE template for project-based learning design. You download this as a word document so it’s completely adaptable to any project you may be considering.

Also worth checking out is this implementation plan to help make PBL sustainable in the long run, and second, these observation forms, which are self-assessment rubrics for teachers to refine their own PBL practice, or to use during observations of their colleagues. (Great if you’re interested in Lesson Study)

Real World Math
Key stages 3-5

A collection of free activities using Google Earth to support the teaching of maths.There’s a section explicitly labelled project-based learning, but the majority of the activities and resources featured on this site lend themselves very well to PBL and inquiry-based learning.

Highlights from the PBL section include simulating a search-and-rescue operation at sea, using Google SketchUp software to create 3D models of buildings, and a U-Boat hunt in which students take on the role of World War II code-breakers, solving cipher messages in order to locate German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. Each project comes with the necessary information and resources to complete, and a list of helpful links.

You’ll also find a few interesting videos on this site – my personal favourite is below. It’s all about how the Surui tribe of the Amazon worked with Google Earth to map ancestral sites and places of interest, like sightings of jaguars or toucans, as part of a project to protect their rainforest from deforestation. It’s a brilliant video with plenty of potential for use in educational and project-based contexts.

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