Simply put, project-based learning (or PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. I have been trying to work it into my instruction more and more this year and this service project proved to be the perfect opportunity! In years previous, when I had done this 100 Lunches project, the students helped raise money to purchase supplies to make the lunches and then I or another adult would simply go out and get them. This year, however, my colleagues and I decided to put the students in the lead. We tasked them with creating a proposal as to what and how much we should buy, and from where, all while staying within the budget dictated by the amount of money they had raised.
Here's an example of a proposal given by a group of students
One of the immediate effects of this project was how engaged the students were! Many of the students spent free time working on it as well as the time allotted to them, and were always reluctant to stop working for the day. As they searched for all the materials they needed, they covered a lot of important mathematics-related topics, including estimation, capacity, and unit prices! They also practiced persuasive speaking, as they argued the merits of a particular area grocery store over another; and speaking for an audience as they presented their proposals.
We were all very proud of our students throughout the process, and they clearly enjoyed the activity. I'm looking forward to infusing more PBL into my classroom teaching!
5th grade teacher in Princeton, NJ. Passionate about education, technology, and the New York Giants!