Project-Based Learning

A Project on Project Based Learning

Quotable Quotes

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”
— Jorge Luis Borges

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

— Frederick Douglass

“The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I [haven't] read.”

— Abraham Lincoln

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

— J. K. Rowling

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

— Emilie Buchwald

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

— Groucho Marx

“Teaching reading IS rocket science.”

— Louisa Moats

“Babies are born with the instinct to speak, the way spiders are born with the instinct to spin webs. You don’t need to train babies to speak; they just do. But reading is different.”

— Steven Pinker

“Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today.”

— Gabriela Mistral

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”

— Marilyn Jager Adams

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

— Jacqueline Kennedy

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet.”

— Lady Montagu, providing advice on raising her granddaughter, 1752

“Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.”

— Chinese proverb

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

“Wear the old coat and buy the new book.”

— Austin Phelps

“You may have tangible wealth untold. / Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. / Richer than I you can never be – / I had a mother who read to me.”

— Strickland Gillilan

“The ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”

— The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1964

“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”

— Franz Kafka, 1904

“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”

— Mark Twain

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!”

— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943

“When I was a kid they didn’t call it dyslexia. They called it you know, you were slow, or you were retarded, or whatever. What you can never change is the effect that the words ‘dumb’ and ‘stupid’ have on young people. I knew I wasn’t stupid, and I knew I wasn’t dumb. My mother told me that. If you read to me, I could tell you everything that you read. They didn’t know what it was. They knew I wasn’t lazy, but what was it?”

— Whoopi Goldberg

“How children feel and interact is as important to their competence and success as how well they think. This has obviously very important implications for both how people raise their children, how they care for other people’s children, and how we invest public funds. Thinking and feeling go hand in hand. It’s not to say that thinking is less important, just not more important.”

— Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Brandeis University

“The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things.”

— Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

“The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.”

— E.M. Forster

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.”

— George Bernard Shaw

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

— Walt Disney

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The following is a list of some of the benefits of a constructivist approach, broken down by specific area of learning:

Develops thinking skills.

  • Problem solving teaches students to consider multiple perspectives on a given situation or phenomenon.
  • This develops flexibility in thinking and reasoning skills, as students compare and contrast various possibilities in order to draw their conclusions.
  • Students tap into their prior knowledge and experience as they attempt to solve a problem. Thus, students continually integrate new knowledge into existing knowledge, thereby providing context and creating a personal “storage room” of resources that will be available for future problem-solving needs.
  • Students also learn to make connections and associations by relating the subject matter to their own life experience.
  • Students learn to support their conclusions with evidence and logical arguments.
  • Students learn to synthesize several sources of information and references in order to draw conclusions and then evaluate these conclusions.
  • Students learn to question ideas and knowledge through the process of comparing and contrasting alternative ideas and contexts.
  • Students are encouraged to engage in individual reflection in order to organize and understand the world.
  • Students experience insights as they think through a problem or inquiry activity, and draw inferences that allow them to go beyond the simple acquisition of facts and information by learning how to see implications and apply them to other situations.

Develops communication and social skills.

  • Students must learn how to clearly articulate their ideas as well as to collaborate on tasks effectively by sharing the burden of group projects. Students must therefore exchange ideas and so must learn to “negotiate” with others and to evaluate their contributions in a socially acceptable manner. This is essential to success in the real world, since they will always be exposed to a variety of experiences in which they will have to navigate among others’ ideas.
  • Students learn how to communicate their ideas and findings with others. This becomes a self-assessment activity, whereby the students gain more insight into how well or poorly they actually understand the concepts at hand.

Encourages alternative methods of assessment.

  • Traditional assessment is based on pen-and-paper tests whereby students demonstrate or reproduce knowledge in the form of short responses and multiple-choice selection, which often inspire little personal engagement. Constructivist assessment engages the students’ initiative and personal investment through journals, research reports, physical models, and artistic representations. Engaging the creative instincts develops a student’s ability to express knowledge through a variety of ways. The student is also more likely to retain and transfer the new knowledge to real life.

Helps students transfer skills to the real world.

  • Students adapt learning to the real world, gaining problem-solving skills and ability to do a critical analysis of a given set of data. These skills enable the student to adapt to a constantly changing real-world environment. Thus, classroom learning does not result in (only) acquisition of a canon of absolute “truth”; it also results in a resource of personal knowledge.

Promotes intrinsic motivation to learn.

  • Constructivism recognizes and validates the student’s point of view, so that rather than being “wrong” or “right,” the student reevaluates and readjusts his knowledge and understanding. Such an emphasis generates confidence and self esteem, which, in turn, motivate the student to tackle more complex problems and themes.

Traditional Classroom

  • Students primarily work alone
  • Curriculum is presented part to whole, with an emphasis on basic skills (bottom-up)
  • Strict adherence to a fixed curriculum is highly valued
  • Curricular activities rely heavily on textbooks of data and manipulative materials
  • Students are viewed as “blank slates” onto which information is etched by the teacher
  • Teachers generally behave in a didactic manner, disseminating information to students
  • Assessment of student learning is viewed as separate from teaching and occurs almost entirely through testing.

Constructivist Classroom

  • Students work primarily in groups
  • Curriculum is presented whole to part with emphasis on the big concept (top-down)
  • Pursuit of student questions is highly valued
  • Curricular activities rely heavily on primary sources
  • Students are viewed as thinkers with emerging theories about the world
  • Teachers generally behave in an interactive manner mediating the environment for students
  • Teachers seek the student’s point of view in order to understand student learning for use in subsequent conceptions
  • Assessment of student learning is interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observation of students at work and through exhibitions and portfolios

1. How might students entry points be identified?

Constructivist teachers seek and value students’ points of view. Knowing what students think about concepts helps teachers formulate classroom lessons and differentiate instruction on the basis of students’ needs and interests.

2. What is involved in structuring the experiences that will build bridges from present understanding to new understanding?

Constructivist teachers structure lessons to challenge students’ suppositions. All students, whether they are 5 or 50, come to the classroom with life experiences that shape their views about how their world works. When educators permit students to construct knowledge that challenges their current suppositions, learning occurs. Only through asking students what they think they know, and why they think they know it, the teachers and the students are able to confront their suppositions.

3. How might the selection of projects pose questions that relate to students’ real-life experiences?

Constructivist teachers recognize that students must attach relevance to the curriculum. As students see relevance in their daily activities, their interest in learning grows.

4. What are the major concepts that students should understand?

Constructivist teachers structure lessons around big ideas, not small bits of information. Exposing students to wholes first helps them determine the relevant parts as they refine their understanding of the wholes. (Top-Down teaching strategy)

5. How might we move from right/wrong to monitoring students’ understanding?

Constructivist teachers assess student learning in the context of daily classroom investigations, not as separate events. Students demonstrate their knowledge every day in a variety of ways. Defining understanding as only that which is capable of being measured by paper-and-pencil assessments administered under strict security perpetuates false and counterproductive myths about academia, intelligence, creativity, accountability, and knowledge.

Here are 10 basic guiding principles of constructivist thinking that educators must keep in mind:

It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous. For significant learning we need to revisit ideas, ponder them try them out, play with them and use them. This cannot happen in 5-10 minutes.

Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it: Learners need to do something, because learning involves the learners engaging with the world.

People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning. each meaning we construct makes us better able to give meaning to other sensations which can fit asimilar pattern.

The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind. We need to provide activities which engage the mind as well as the hands.

Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning. People talk to themselves as they learn, and language and learning are inextricably intertwined.

Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings, our teachers, our peers, our family. Conversations, interaction with others and collaborations are an integral aspect of learning.

Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from rest of our lives. We learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears.

One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. The more we know the more we can learn.

Learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge which exists “out there”. Learning involves the learner engaging with the world and extracting meaning from his/her experiences

Motivation is a key component in learning. Not only is the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning.

A constructivist learning setting differs greatly from one based on the traditional model. In the constructivist classroom the teacher becomes a guide for the learner, providing bridging or scaffolding, helping to extend the learner’s zone of proximal development. The student is encouraged to develop metacognitive skills such as reflective thinking and problem solving techniques.

The independent learner is intrinsically motivated to generate, discover, build and enlarge her/his own framework of knowledge.