Jun 25 2019

7 Steps to Successful Project-Based Learning in K–12 Classrooms

Nashville students created a virtual museum application to explore the city’s civil rights history.

In putting together a project that would allow her students to create a successful “March Through Nashville” virtual museum app, McKissack Middle School teacher Kimberly Head-Trotter relied on PBLWorks’ seven essential project design principles to guide her students in “Gold Standard” project-based learning: 

  1. Challenging Problem or Question: How can we create a virtual museum app that will preserve Nashville’s influence on the larger civil rights movement?
  2. Sustained Inquiry: The process took place throughout the eight-week project, during which students continued to ask questions, seek insight from others and revise their work until they felt it best answered the original question.
  3. Authenticity: Students were tasked with researching and understanding key events in local civil rights history through contact with historians and experts, primary sources and artifacts, historical videos and interviews with people who lived through these events.
  4. Student Voice and Choice: Students chose which stories, facts, photos and other supporting documentation should be highlighted, and they provided their own description of the events.
  5. Reflection: Students answered questions from Head-Trotter and kept journals to help them understand what they were learning, what challenges they faced in meeting the goals of the project and how to overcome them.
  6. Critique and Revision: To help students determine if their storytelling was effective, Head-Trotter had the groups critique each other’s draft presentations to provide suggestions for improvement.
  7. Public Product: Groups worked together to present and narrate their final virtual museum application to a panel that included a historian, a teacher and an IT specialist.

To learn more about project-based learning, check out "Project-Based Learning Engages K–12 Students with Real-World Challenges."


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