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Project-Based Learning in High School

Written by SmartLab Learning

Introduction

Project-Based Learning is a type of instruction where students work on long-term projects to learn about real-world concepts. Students develop a deeper understanding of topics by engaging in hands-on learning and exploration . PBL can be used in any grade level and any content area.

PBL has many benefits for students. It helps them to develop problem-solving skills, learn how to work in teams, and think creatively. PBL also gives students a chance to take charge of their own learning.

What is project based learning?

Project Based Learning is an instructional approach where students learn by doing. In a PBL classroom, students work on long-term projects that are relevant to their lives and the world around them. These projects require them to use what they are learning in order to solve real-world problems.

PBL is a great way to engage students in their learning and prepare them for the real world. It has been shown to improve student achievement, motivation, and confidence. It is a flexible instructional approach that can be adapted to meet the needs of any learner.

Project-Based Learning can be used in high school to help students learn the content they need to be successful in college and their future careers. PBL is a great way to engage high school students in their learning. When done correctly, it can prepare them for the rigors of college and the workplace.

SmartLab Learning simplifies the PBL process by providing support every step of the way. Educational partners collect information about the students and create an individualized approach to learning that aligns with school standards. SmartLab also trains educators and provides long-term support to ensure that teachers feel equipped to both challenge and scaffold students as they progress through the curriculum. 

How does project based learning work in the classroom?

PBL can be used in any grade level and any content area. In high school, PBL is often used in English, History, and Science classes.

For example, in an English class, students might work on a project where they create a newspaper. The students perform research, write their own articles, and design the layout of the newspaper.

In a history class, students might work on a project where they create a museum exhibit. The students research different historical events, choose which events to include in the exhibit, and design the exhibit.

In a science class, students might work on a project where they create a model of the solar system. The students research the planets and then build and paint a model.

SmartLab Learning can be used to enhance learning in any subject area. By using SmartLab Learning’s suite of standards-aligned supplemental curriculum, educators can engage students in specific experiences that allow them to apply subject-specific concepts to real-world projects. 

Some tips for implementing project based learning in the high school classroom:

1. Start with a short project to acclimate students to the PBL process.

2. Make sure the project is relevant to students’ lives and interests.

3. Make sure the project is aligned with state and national standards.

4. Give students plenty of time to work on the project.

5. Provide students with adequate resources and support.

6. Assess student learning throughout the project, not just at the end.

7. Celebrate student achievement at the end of the project.

With proper planning and implementation, PBL can be a successful instructional approach in the high school classroom and SmartLab Learning can help. 

The 5-step SmartLab Learning process encourages students to explore, plan, do, reflect, and share. Each step authentically engages learners and provides teachers with ample opportunities to assess students and identify gaps in learning. The open-ended activities allow students to shape and expand learning around their own interests, abilities, and learning styles, making it possible for every student to feel successful. 

Top Challenges with implementing project-based learning in high school

While project-based learning can be a successful instructional approach, there are some challenges that come with implementing it in the high school classroom.

1. Time- One of the biggest challenges with implementing PBL is finding the time to do it. High school students have a lot of content to cover and not a lot of time to do it. PBL projects can take several weeks or even months to complete. This can be a challenge for teachers who are trying to cover all of the required content in their classes.

One way to overcome time challenges with project-based learning is to start with a short project. This will help students get acclimated to the PBL process. Another way to overcome time challenges is to make sure the project is relevant to students’ lives and interests. This will increase engagement and motivation, especially for the longer projects. 

SmartLab saves educators valuable time by building a customized solution intended to meet each school’s learning initiatives and meet individual student needs. The support personnel designs the environment and installs the solution, which leaves educators with more time to support students and facilitate learning. 

2. Standards- Another challenge with implementing PBL is aligning the projects with state and national standards. High school students need to be prepared for standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT. PBL projects should be designed to help students meet these standards.

To do this, teachers can use a variety of resources, such as the State Standards database and the National Standards for Project Based Learning. Using these resources, teachers can make sure that their projects support students in learning the content they need to know and are prepared for standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT.

SmartLab Learning provides a standards-aligned curriculum to help educators ensure that students are developing core knowledge and skills. 

3. Resources- A third challenge with implementing PBL is making sure that students have the resources they need to complete the projects. PBL projects often require materials that are not readily available in the classroom. Teachers may need to purchase these materials or find ways to get them from other sources.

There are a variety of resources available for project-based learning in high school. Teachers can use these resources to plan and implement projects in their classrooms.

With SmartLab Learning, once your school selects a solution, the team creates and implements a custom environment, including all of the resources necessary to ensure student success. This includes a custom floor plan, necessary technologies, and hands-on materials. 

4. Support- A fourth challenge with implementing PBL is providing students with adequate support. PBL projects can be complex and challenging for students. They may need help from their teachers and classmates in order to complete the project.

How to ensure students are supported

There are a few things that you as a teacher can do to ensure your students are receiving the support they need.

1. Make sure the project is properly planned and relevant to the students.

  •  Use resources such as state and national standards to ensure the project meets all necessary requirements.
  • Make sure students have all the materials they need to complete the project.
  • Provide adequate support throughout the duration of the project.
  • Use a variety of assessment methods to properly evaluate student learning.

With SmartLab Learning, teachers receive support through professional development and long-term coaching. SmartLab Learning partners with schools and educators to ensure that they feel adequately prepared to implement lessons and support student learning. 

5. Assessment- A final challenge with implementing PBL is assessment. It can be difficult to assess student learning in a PBL project. Teachers may need to use a variety of assessment methods, such as rubrics and portfolios, to assess student learning.

Project-based learning is a great way to engage students in their learning. However, assessment can be a challenge. Here are a few tips on how to assess student learning with project-based learning:

  • Use a variety of assessment methods.
  • Use rubrics to assess student work.
  • Have students create portfolios of their work.
  • Use formative and summative assessment.
  • Assess student learning throughout the project, not just at the end.

SmartLab learning ensures that teachers have ample opportunity to assess students and ensure that they are both supported and challenged. The open-ended, student-led activities allow students to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways and allow educators to identify gaps in learning and reteach as necessary. 

Despite the challenges, implementing project-based learning in the high school classroom can be a great way to engage students in their learning.

What types of high school subjects/topics are best for project-based learning?

There is no right answer to this question as different students will thrive in different learning environments. However, some subjects/topics that may be well suited for project-based learning include English, history, science, and math. These subjects lend themselves well to project-based learning as they often involve complex topics that can be explored in-depth through projects. 

Additionally, these subjects are often included on standardized tests, so it is important that students are exposed to them through project-based learning in order to be prepared. 

SmartLab Learning aligns activities to schools’ standards, allowing educators to implement them in all subject areas. This innovative, personalized approach provides ample opportunity for the exploration of subject-specific skills and concepts. Students participating in the SmartLab Learning environment are engaged in real-world learning opportunities seamlessly woven throughout multiple discipline areas. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine if a subject/topic is well suited for project-based learning is to try it out and see how your students respond. If they seem engaged and excited about the project, then it is likely a good fit. If they seem bored or uninterested, then you may want to try a different subject/topic. Ultimately, it is up to you as the teacher to determine what will work best for your students.

How do you assess student progress with project-based learning?

There are a few different ways that you can assess student progress with project-based learning. Some assessment methods include:

1. Rubrics- Rubrics are a great way to provide detailed feedback to students and to ensure that all students are meeting the same standards.

2. Portfolios- You can ask students to create portfolios of their work. This is a great way to see the progress students have made over the course of the project.

3. Assessments throughout the project- You can assess student learning throughout the project, not just at the end. This will allow you to see how students are progressing and make changes as needed.

4. Formative and summative assessment- You can use both formative and summative assessment to assess student learning. Formative assessment is used to assess student learning during the project, while summative assessment is used to assess student learning at the end of the project.

5. Student self-assessment- You can ask students to assess their own learning. This is a great way to encourage students to reflect on their own learning and to identify areas where they need improvement.

Each of the steps in SmartLab’s five-step learning process provides educators with opportunities to authentically assess and evaluate student learning using a variety of methods. 

Teachers can observe students throughout the learning process to determine which concepts have been mastered and which need to be retaught. The variety of meaningful activities at various challenge levels provide students with opportunities to demonstrate learning in ways that reflect their individual interests, abilities, and learning styles. 

Ultimately, the best way to assess student progress with project-based learning is to use a variety of assessment methods. This will allow you to get a well-rounded view of student learning and to make changes as needed. Remember, the goal is to assess student learning, not to grade students. So, focus on providing detailed feedback and helping students identify areas where they need improvement.

Conclusion

Project-based learning is a great way to engage students in their learning. It allows them to explore complex topics in-depth and to apply what they have learned to real-world situations. SmartLab Learning helps schools and educators provide meaningful learning experiences for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or ability levels. Their unique approach to individualized STEM instruction makes students excited about learning and allows teachers to provide the support necessary for every student to achieve success. 

What are some ways you assess student progress with project-based learning?

We would love to hear all about them in the comments section below!

SmartLab Learning

SmartLab Learning keeps students engaged as they reach their academic goals. Our research-based, comprehensive learning solutions are designed to support you with everything you need so you can focus on your students.

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