All new kinds of learning styles have emerged over the past few years. As K-12 education moves towards more progressive learning approaches schools have adapted to a learning style called project-based learning. We recently spoke with Education Coach, Adjunct Professor, and Author, Jorge Valenzuela, to find out how he uses project-based learning in his classroom.
What is Project-Based Learning?
PBL Works defines project-based learning as, “a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.” With project-based learning, students are able to gain real-life experience while building on and connecting concepts previously learned.
This method is used to help students understand the ‘why’ of the lessons they are doing. So often students lack interest in a lesson because they don’t understand why what they are doing is important or how it can relate to their lives outside of the classroom. Project-based learning gives teachers the opportunity to group fun, learning, and purpose all into one activity.
Students learning with project-based learning demonstrate critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, innovation skills, motor and technical skills, collaboration skills, etc. The list of benefits from project-based learning can go on. Show students how their skills and abilities can be applied to the real world to help them create a positive outlook on their future.
Image from https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl
How Jorge Leads with Project-Based Learning
Jorge has been an educator for many years and has gained experience in different fields in education stretching from teacher to IT specialists to author. When he began learning about project-based learning Jorge remembered that one of his high school teachers used to say to him, “you should always do your work to help other people.” This gave Jorge the boost he needed to really dive into what project-based learning is all about.
Jorge described this as an opportunity he saw to help actual people as opposed to fixing hardware and networks all day as an IT. After a few years of being an administrator and overseeing the computer science programs and curriculum, Jorge started to pick up on a few things. He realized that to fully execute an effective project-based learning curriculum, you as an administrator or leader have to lead by example. Jorge explained that you have to apply the same things in the classroom that you do as an instructional leader; meaning you have to model what you want your teachers to do and be.
The biggest takeaway Jorge has after all these years of teaching and coaching project-based learning is that as a leader you have to blog what you are doing. Share as much information as you can to your friends, peers, colleagues, and even strangers online. This information is invaluable and a teacher from across the way may stumble across one of your ideas and it could transform their classroom forever! Jorge had no idea that his career would grow into the coaching company that it has become today. Went from coaching 40 teachers to coaching 500 teachers a year with PBL Works. You never know who might love your content.
For even more amazing information on project-based learning head over to PBL Works website for tons of valuable resources.
Listen to the full conversation with Jorge Valenzuela on our Tackling Tech Podcast!
On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, powered by Dyknow, Brett McGrath speaks with Jorge Valenzuela, educational coach, curriculum specialist, and author of Rev Up Robotics. Jorge teaches workshops on Project-Based Learning, Computer Science, and STEM. He is hosting the Friday session of the Progressive Learning Conference, Sept-21-25.
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