What is Project-Based Learning?

What is Project-Based Learning?

(The following is a guest post from Lolita Allgyer, Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis.)

What is Project-Based Learning?

Learning by creating a tangible project is one of the best ways to build a new skill, explore new opportunities, and discover what you enjoy.

Rather than focusing on getting specific subjects done lesson by lesson, project-based learning uses completed projects as educational mile-markers. This approach gives students physical representations of the skills they have built, and a sense of satisfaction in their creative ability at the end of every project.

The best part about project-based learning is that it can be plugged into many different homeschool methods. Into roadschooling? Add a couple projects related to your travels. Like a highly-structured approach? Include small projects as assignments. Unschooling? Help your kids craft projects that are related to the interests you see them building.

How to Build a Project Around a Learning Objective

There are two ways to use a project as a learning opportunity:

  1. Use the project as the end goal.
  2. Use the project to get to a goal.

When you use the project as an end goal, you focus on learning whatever you can to get the project done. An example of this would be “I’m going to build a tepee.” Then you’d study tepee-building techniques, learn about American Indians and their survival skills, build a science journal documenting what you need, and go on a field trip to source the building materials you need. Each of these skills and experiences would be a byproduct of your end goal: building a tepee. This is a great way to help a child or teen who has big ideas but needs some guidance on actually putting them into action.

Using a project to get to an end goal is slightly different. With this approach, a specific skill set is often an end goal, and the project is simply a way to get to that goal. A great example of this would be “I want to build writing skills.” Then you’d put together a project idea based on this goal: maybe you’d plan to publish a book, put together a creative writing journal, or use one prompt per day to push your writing ability to the next level. The options are endless! 

If you’re helping a younger child learn, I highly recommend focusing on the first method of project-based learning. Watch any child at play and you’ll see they learn quickly and easily when they have a specific project to learn by! The second method is great to implement with an older child or a teen who really wants to focus on building a specific skill.

Using the Project As the End Goal

I’m convinced that projects teach you a combination of more skills than anything else can. Most of the time, you won’t even know the skills you’re building until you look back on the project.

I coach the Philosophy module at Praxis. Instead of just studying philosophy, we focus each week around a project: a video that relates to the concepts we covered in the week’s worth of content. Every participant that comes through this module is amazed at the skills they build just by creating something to go along with the information they’re studying. 

  • They build public speaking and debate abilities. 
  • They figure out basic video editing. 
  • They learn how to boil a big idea down into concepts that anyone can understand (sales!).
  • They learn to quickly pick out what makes a good and bad video.
  • They begin to understand basic filming technique like lighting, posture, enunciation, and much more. 

After making one video every week for a month, participants at Praxis suddenly realize how much they have learned from the video creation! 

  1. Do you or your child have a great idea for something to create? That’s your project.
  2. Expand on the project idea, brainstorming the possible skills that can be gained from it.
  3. Build a plan that will help your child maximize on the skills they can gain from the project.
  4. Figure out a daily and weekly action plan and goals that you can work toward.
  5. Document the project at each step of the way. A good completed project has plenty of documentation to go with it, whether it’s a little science journal, a slideshow with videos showing progress, or a write-up that showcases what your child has completed.

Using the Project to Get to a Goal

Projects make learning fun again! They’re also easier to showcase than tests and other methods of scoring learning ability, and they’re much more pleasant to look back on. 

Using this method of project building requires you (or your child) to be highly goal-oriented. It means that you need to see past the project you are creating to the end goal of the skillset you will have built in the end.

In my work at Praxis, I always look for opportunities to branch out and learn new things that make me more valuable both to the company and otherwise.

I’ve always wanted to build a skillset in video editing, but that dream never got past the “great idea” stage in my mind. But when an opportunity came around to film and edit the Office Hours Podcast, I recognized that this was my opportunity to fulfill my dream of getting into video editing.

So I took on the project of producing this podcast. I made a lot of mistakes, stressed out some, and watched countless Youtube videos. But by now I’ve had over 50 hours of editing experience with Premiere Pro, having worked on anything from simple social media videos to ads to podcast episodes. I’ve still got a long way to go, but this project helped my dream of being a video editor come true. 

  1. Determine the goal. Here’s how to set goals that you can actually achieve!
  2. Break the goal down into manageable chunks depending on the child’s age and experience level.
  3. Brainstorm 3-5 possible project ideas with your child.
  4. After letting the project ideas sit for a little, narrow the project ideas down to the one that you both like the best!
  5. Break the project up into daily and weekly goals that you can keep track of.
  6. Don’t forget to document the project as you build it! This is the fun part- make a daily drawing of where you are in the project if it’s applicable. Take a picture every day of the child with the project. Let them make short videos talking about what they learned in the process. The options are endless!

A couple of final thoughts

I’ve laid out a step-by-step plan that can be used for a 6-month-long project like a research paper on a topic your child is passionate about. But it can also be applied to a field trip that you’re taking to a science museum for another child with a curious mind.

I’ve geared this article toward homeschool moms looking for ways to teach their kids new skills via projects. But this method is applicable to projects you’re completing for yourself as well. Projects don’t stop when you turn 18 and graduate. In fact, they give you a method for teaching yourself anything, anytime in life! 

My point is that project-based learning is a mindset and a way of life, not just an educational plug-in. That’s why it’s so valuable.

(If you loved this post be sure to check out 8 Software Tools that Teens Can Master.)

 

How to Perpare Your Kids for After Graduation Lolita Allgyer

 

Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who is passionate about education, specifically in the arena of helping individuals learn how to educate themselves. She works for Praxis, an alternative education company that combines a 6-month professional bootcamp and a 6-month apprenticeship at a startup. This post was originally published here on the Praxis blog.

 

 

 

Is your student tired of boring worksheets? Maybe it's time to try project based learning. Check out this post to learn what project based learning is and how you can make it work for your student. #homeschooling #truenorthhomeschoolacademy #projectbasedlearning

Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records, OH MY!

Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records, OH MY!

Homeschool Files, Papers, and Records…OH MY!

You’re starting to think about how much coffee and tea you’re going to have to drink in order to even START planning your homeschool year….I get that! Between registrations, letter of intent, standing in line, praying for curriculum sales, and wondering if you’re making the right decision, the LAST thing you want to think about it is keeping records.

As daunting of a task as this is, especially if you have multiple kids, it’s a necessity. “But, Tammie, how do I keep things documented without becoming a hoarder?” WHEW! I understand that, too. Take it from someone whose Mom kept every Christmas ornament from ALL THREE kids…yeah!

 

So how do you control homeschool files?

 

First, get a documentation binder. This was a lifesaver for me when I started and still is now.

In my binder, I have the following sections:

  • State laws and evaluation protocols from HSLDA and my state’s website
  • Cover school confirmation of enrollment and teacher verification
  • Curriculum/resource list for all of our children along with receipts of purchase
  • Attendance reports—number of days, number of hours, etc.
  • Medical reports such as shot records, physicals, eye exams, etc
  • Activity pics from field trips and co-op moments
  • Work samples—don’t save EVERYTHING, just show progress
  • Community service, including letters of commendation, letters of recommendation, awards, etc.

Pinterest Blog Image

 

Next, get a Planner!

There are a MYRIAD of planners out there for you to use, but putting things in writing is important, especially if you have to call in a substitute family member to help you out for the day. Believe it or not, as a working homeschool mom myself, I made a Substitute Teacher Binder for my own HUSBAND!

 

 

 

When it comes to choosing a planner, always ask yourself if the design answers these seven questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • How much?

Why these seven questions?

It’s because these are the questions you will wake up and go to sleep answering on a daily basis. The planner that you use needs to help you get that out of your head and onto paper! If you are in the market for a planner that has a layout like this, check out my planners!

Also, consider getting planners for your children as well and help them to help you stay on track. Giving THEM a checklist of things to do gives you one less thing to think about. Only answer the questions asked. When it comes to record-keeping, we are prone to include ALL THE THINGS when we document what we do in your homeschool—STOP IT! Those same seven questions listed above are the same seven questions your documentation binder and planner should answer, whether it’s for your eyes only, an evaluator, or a friend or family member who’s coming to help.

Record-keeping doesn’t have to be as daunting of a task as others make it out to be! Stick to what is most needed and keep it moving! You have more important things to focus on, right?

(Are you overwhelmed with homeschooling madness? Maybe it’s time to check out True North Homeschool Academy’s Academic Advising!)

Contributor

 

 

Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host!

 

 

Are you overwhelmed with the amount of papers attached to your homeschool? Check out this great post to help tackle your homeschool files today! #truenorthhomeschoolacademy #homeschoolfiles #homeschoolorganization

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