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How to Design a Project-Based Learning Classrooms for New York Private Schools

Traditional New York classrooms tend to fit a specific mold where students face the front of the room while teachers lecture. Students take notes, finish homework, and hope to memorize loads of information just long enough to pass a test. The traditional system does not accommodate all learning styles, and passion and engagement are often in short supply among students and lecturers. Add project based learning to the equation. Rather than reciting facts and hoping they stick, teachers provide students the resources they need to look for context and real-world applications. Teachers expect students to make mistakes and learn from them. As a result, Students become active instead of passive learners.

What is PBL: Project-Based Learning Explained 

Today, project-based learning (PBL) is making a buzz in the education world. Many people consider an alternative to passive and rote learning. Analogy-wise, if traditional education is classical music, PBL is jazz. In a PBL setting, instead of short-term memorization strategies, teachers allow students to develop knowledge and skills by presenting them challenges and problems to solve together.  Students work in groups while teachers guide them to find the information they need to plan their projects. Lecturers encourage each learner to find ideas and answers to their questions from different sources.  

An example of project-based learning in action is a science-based project where students visit a zoo to learn about animal habitats and form opinions on which home best suits each animal. In this project is the team collaborates to develop a research-supported habitat plan for presentation to zookeepers, local zoology students, and professional zoologists. They explore their local environment and describe conditions within a habitat that are beneficial or hazardous for living things. 

Project-based learning requires students to think and act like professionals in their respective fields. When professionals fail to execute their job correctly, they suffer consequences. Students can thrive in the same authentic environments where they do much more than pretend.

4 Rules for Designing a PBL Classroom

Often, traditional learning never ventures beyond the realm of the academic. Project-based learning connects students to the real world and prepares them to accept challenges as a matter of course. Of course, a great deal of planning, a healthy dose of flexibility, and a learning environment that supports collaboration are necessary for a successful PBL classroom. Here are four must-follow rules for designing a productive PBL setting:

  • Learning Spaces Set the Tone

One key characteristic of a PBL environment is attention to group work where students encourage each other, solve problems with their peers, and develop critical thinking and decision-making skills. This means that teachers should organize the learning environment in a way that supports cooperation and collaboration. Teachers need a central location where all students can gather to hear lessons, but there should be dedicated space for groups to work together.

  • You Don’t Have to be the Ultimate Resource

Perhaps the key element of a PBL classroom is its teacher. Unlike the traditional learning environment where the teachers follow a detailed curriculum, PBL classrooms can be unpredictable and student-guided. Even if teachers often feel like spectators, they have to be flexible, supportive, and engaged in the learning process. 

  • Utilize the Technology with a Purpose

PBL learning environments use educational technology to help students develop real-world skills and use video-editing and presentation software to organize information and transmit ideas. However, technology can become a distraction, so teachers should monitor Internet use and guide the students in the use of technology to achieve project goals.

  • Think Information Access

In PBL, students need access to chalk or whiteboards, reference books, and art supplies. Young children are often tactile learners, so it helps to divide the room into subject-themed areas that display learning materials and other supplies. However, since PBL is unpredictable and student-guided, parents must understand that it is important to keep learning materials to support rather than limit creativity.

All students, no matter what their background or where they live, deserve access to high-quality education. Make your children creators-- their futures depend on it. Equip your children to become problem solvers, game-changers, and critical thinkers at Hudson Lab School! If you want to know more about project-based learning in private schools in New York, check out our website today or call us at (914) 775-7058 for more details.