As part of creating strong projects, students need to develop thought-provoking questions that encourage deep thinking. To assist our students with this process, we use the Question Matrix. The Question Matrix guides students in creating questions that require more thought and research. We require students to have a driving question and four supporting questions (aka guiding questions) . The driving question should be one that encompasses the entire project and will show the big picture. The supporting questions are those that need to be answered to successfully answer the driving question. Students develop their thought-provoking questions by sliding across and down the Question Matrix.
One of the many reasons I love PBL is that it provides so many opportunities for students to develop skills they need to be successful in life. Collaboration is a great example. Project work often requires students to work together through a process, problem, or product design and creation, making collaboration commonplace in project-based classrooms. And effective collaboration is one of the highly-prized skills of deeper learning like PBL, leading to better communication and enhanced critical thinking and creativity.
I am abandoning my office, that annoying pile of papers, and the daily commute to head to the airport and the mountains that are calling. Fresh, crisp air, mind-expanding vistas, knee-deep wildflowers, and space to do something entirely different. I’m checking-out…body and mind on break…far from planning the next year of projects.
At Wildlands, we stress independent learning and developing functional skills as a learner across grade levels. Over the years we have found students don’t always recognize these attributes and abilities, especially when they first enter the project-learning environment. Our students generally come from the control and compliance of more traditional school environment. Uncertain of how to move themselves forward as a project-based learner, we needed strategies to help students strive for independence and lifelong learning.
Envision a school where people are at home, a place where kids and teachers have a deep sense of
belonging. Now think of great examples in the real world…they are not common, are they? And they don’t happen by accident.
At the heart of these schools are strategic relationships and structures that make it happen, like advisory and mentorship and multiage. In most project-based learning schools, advisory is a key component of helping students have a “learning home.” While working closely with a small group of peers and a caring adult, learners experience teamwork and friendship. They build partnerships and problem-solving skills. They move forward on their academic learning plans and life goals, and build important leadership skills.