Math Madness Wednesday: Project Based Learning

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hi all! I'm April from Performing in Education, and I am so excited to be guest hosting Math Madness Wednesday this week! I'm here to talk about using Project-based Learning to help students practice those tricky Math standards.

Have you tried Project-based Learning (PBL) in your class yet? I was first introduced to PBL a few years ago when we were taking our first look at the new Common Core State Standards. We didn't really know what to expect except that students would have to use the Math for real-world applications. Project-based learning was our solution to this new way of applying the standards.

What is Project-based Learning? Project-based learning is a teaching method where students gain and apply skills by working on a long project where they complete an in-depth inquiry into a specific topic or question. Like all teaching methods, it's not standalone. It can be added to the teaching you are already doing in your classroom. PBL allows for more real world application and in-depth understanding of the concepts your students need to understand.

What are the benefits for students? Project-based learning is exciting for students. The first time I did PBL in my classroom, students were voluntarily doing extra research and activities for their project at home. I am constantly impressed by the level of interest students take in these projects. Student interest equals engagement, which will raise your test scores without all that boring test prep. In the long run, PBL helps students practice life skills like creating a budget or starting a business.
What are the benefits for teachers? In project-based learning, students work to investigate the concepts by making their own choices. Once you've set up the parameters, the students do all the work. You are just there to facilitate. PBL also involves far less paper than worksheets, and far less grading. Students receive a final project grade, and observational grades throughout.

Are you convinced yet?

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's the perfect time to work on a Thanksgiving-themed Project-based Learning Activity! A few years ago, I began bringing in piles of grocery store ads and having my students plan their own Thanksgiving dinner. Throughout the years I've refined the process and created student handouts to focus on specific Math objectives. 

Here's a peak at a couple of wonderful kiddos working on a Thanksgiving Project-based learning activity:

My favorite part of this project is that the numbers for their calculations are coming out of actual grocery store ads that students can flip through, write on, and cut out! The colorful pictures and headlines make it much more interesting than a table of prices from a Math textbook!


I'd love to hear about your experiences with Project-based learning! What projects have you done in your classroom?

For a limited time, you can download five of my Project-based Learning activities at Educents for only $9.99, which is 50% off!

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