PBL is different from what most classrooms are like today because most classrooms today consist of a teacher lecturing and teaching students using notes and textbooks. Sometimes small projects are assigned, but those are mostly projects based on the information or topic they were just taught. Students are instructed to just restate the information given to them in a nicer format. PBL is a project with a topic that can go in any direction. Students can choose to research something that is of most interest to them. They start without knowing much on their topic and they make their own questions and find the answers which most of the time leads them to ask more questions. Teachers make rubrics that guide students to continue in the path that will have them learn the most of the topics chosen by the students. Students learn more with project based learning because they are constantly engaged in the topic of their choice.
As a student myself through middle school and high school I have never experienced project based learning. Even as a teaching credential student, I have not seen this in action at any of the schools I have visited. The closest thing to a big project I remember where I was really engaged was an assignment where a teacher told us that we had a million dollars and we had to try to spend it all in one day. He brought in newspapers and magazines (there were no individual laptops or chromebooks that we could use to research like there is now) and we had to find the things we wanted to buy i.e. a house, a car, etc. It was just supposed to show us that a million dollars is a lot and that it is hard to spend that much in one day (now a house can easily be worth that much).
I think PBL is a great thing, but it requires a lot of planning from the teacher side. Once it is planned though I think it would be very satisfying as a teacher to kind of step back and watch the students taking charge of their own education. The advantages of using PBL for our students would be that they would learn how to research, think critically, and work in groups to achieve one common goal. These are all skills that they will need no matter what type of job they get after their schooling. Some disadvantages to PBL could be that it causes stress for the students to perform at their best (especially when they have to present to their parents and other community members). Also some students don’t do well working with others and could cause some conflicts within groups.
The part of PBL that I found the most interesting is that the teachers are considered a resource and not the main source of information. The teachers guide students and provide them with the tools necessary to successfully research, create, and learn the topic that they chose.
Here are some pictures that explain PBL in a visual way.