Project-Based Learning (PBL) provides experiences through which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Additionally, it allows students to strengthen the skills they need for life (i.e., critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, leadership, etc.) and to engage in learning that’s fun and relevant.
The Buck Institute for Education (2018), one of the leading voices in PBL, proposes that the following elements are essential to all effective projects:
Key knowledge, understanding, and success skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management.
Challenging problem or question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
Sustained inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks, tools, quality standards, or impact. Alternatively, it speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
Student voice and choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, and obstacles and how to overcome them.
Critique and revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their future process and products.
Public product – Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.
Video creation can support all elements of the PBL experience. Below is a project idea that incorporates the use of video creation to strengthen and support the eight elements listed above.
Students, in the role of financial advisors, are challenged to find the best way $25 can impact a community. They will select a project from the organization, Kiva.org, to provide with a $25 microloan. To help students determine the best use of the funds, they will conduct interviews with a banker to learn how lending works, and with the investors to learn about what projects they are passionate about. Fellow students, teachers, and community members will be the investors. Students will also factor in repayment schedules, as well as delinquency and default rates, for the given project and borrower. Students will be in charge of taking the funds and investing them into Kiva.org so the borrowers can begin their project. The end product is a student-created video that will be shared with the all the investors, as well as the school and the local community, to get their Kiva projects fully funded.
Student can use operations with decimals to solve a real-world problem and explain their reasoning through models. (5.NBT.B.)
Present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant descriptive details to support main ideas. (S.L.5.4)
Students would first collaboratively develop a plan for their video by creating a storyboard. The video will include media (e.g., photos, music, etc.) and interview clips from the borrower’s community. Students will have a choice in who they interview and determine how to sequence the story to generate the most impact. The video will include the students’ own thoughts and opinions predicting future success of the community. It will also explain why they believe this project will make the biggest impact on the community.
This was adapted from BIE.org, which provided this as a “Gold Standard” example of a project. The original was developed by National Faculty members Angela Marzilli and Erika Jordan.
When students engage in such a project, the experience requires more than just acquiring knowledge of a specific content area. It requires inquiry, collaboration, communication with new people, and the use of technologies that further support student learning. Video creation in this project, for example, revealed how students reason through mathematics and understand the culture of the community they are supporting. It also allowed students to critique and revise their work, and provided a more engaging way to present their final product to a relevant audience.
Video creation adapts readily to project-based learning across grade levels, subject areas, and differentiated student needs. It provides a canvas upon which students collect research and drive insights. They are empowered to reveal novel insights they make by establishing connections across that rich material. Such projects provide teachers with formative assessment opportunities to simultaneously appraise how students perceive the project and to evaluate their skill levels across multiple areas. PBL with video creation is a multidimensional learning experience that engages students and effectively addresses today’s educational goals.