Project-Based Learning (PBL) allows students to construct knowledge through the use of disciplined inquiry (DI). In PBL, students
Make use of a pre-existing knowledge base
Strive for in-depth understanding
Express conclusions through elaborated communication (Newmann, Secada & Wehlage 9)
During each unit this semester, you will be working to solve problems related to the larger themes of the books we're reading in class. The point of this is to bring your study of literature and writing into the real world. Ideally, by the end of the semester, nobody should have to ask the question, "Why do I need to know this?"
With project-based learning, you are in the driver's seat. You control the questions being asked and the solutions being developed. For each unit, I will provide a "Launch Question" that will guide your research. You will then design a "Driving Question," or a focus that will direct your research and work throughout the unit.
Who is solving this problem? Are you working individually? Are you working with a group? Or (to get more creative) do you have to adopt a persona other than your own to answer the question being asked? (For example, might it be a better idea to look at the problem from somebody else's point of view?)
What problem are you identifying that needs to be solved? It can be local (in your school, your neighborhood, or your town/city), state-wide, national, or global. Success in the project doesn't necessarily mean that you solve the problem. But your projects should address the problem and design potential solutions.
Why does this question matter? Why is this a problem that people are going to care about? This means that you can't just try to figure out how to get more sugary snacks in the vending machines. The questions you ask should lead you solutions that could provide authentic benefits.
What is the thing you are going to create or design? How are you going to get your solutions to the audience(s) that will be most interested in hearing them? How are you going to really affect change?
At the end of the semester, you will be presenting one of your projects to the entire class. If possible, you will be presenting your projects for a larger community than just this class.
Cushman, Kathleen. "The Voice of Ted Sizer Lives On." Education Week. Editorial Projects in Education, 17 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 June 2016. Kubik, Tim. "Minding Their Ps for Better DQs–Possibilities for Taking Inquiry to the Next Level of Work." Kubik Perspectives Dr Tim Kubik. Kubik Perspectives, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 June 2016. Kubik, Tim. "Minding Your Ps and Qs for Better DQs." Kubik Perspectives Dr Tim Kubik. Kubik Perspectives, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 13 June 2016. Newmann, Fred M., Walter Secada, and Gary Wehlage. "A Conception of Authentic Human Achievement." Authentic Achievement: Instruction, Assessment, Vision and Standards. Cambridge, MA: Education Resources Consortium, n.d. 7-13. Print. "Why Project Based Learning (PBL)?" Project Based Learning. Buck Institute for Education, n.d. Web. 13 June 2016.