Research on meaningful PBL
Another resource:

Our current use of activities are like lincoln log assignments. We as teachers can see how the pieces fit together but the students don't. Authentic Instruction is different from a project in that it is an in-depth investigation of a real world topic worthy of children's attention and effort. Characteristics of Authentic Instruction:
  1. Explicit connection to a standard
  2. Collaboration among students in same class or elsewhere
  3. Information accessing through research or survey
  4. Information processing by analyzing, formatting, assembling
  5. Construction of a unique, valuable information product
  6. Self-assessment

Important note: Decide your audience and what the purpose is. The product is not just a copy of chunks of information, it is copying small chunks and assembling them to produce information products that accomplish something.

Skills used: Researching, Communication, Problem-solving, Self-management, Cooperative learning

  • Review cars for fuel-efficiency
  • Analyze the school menu changes and identify purpose and research behind the change
  • Movie review related to a topic that would be discussed in class
  • Design a food product to illustrate nutrition or biochemistry
  • Compare CFL's to incandescents (measure luminosity, heat generated, price, rated power)

Writing lesson plans can be difficult to keep project focus. I additionally use the following:

Focus on education should be:
  • Higher order thinking: Is the instruction dependent on recall and recitation, or does the instruction require organization and manipulation of information to discover meaning?
  • Depth of knowledge: Does the instructional goal move beyond a trivial understanding and progress to a more significant and complex understanding? (We need to identify the big ideas in our classes).
  • Connectedness to the world: Is the instructional application dependent on school-related connections, or is the application connected to an adult real-life experience?
  • Substantive conversations: Does the instruction rely on teacher-directed answer sessions, or does the instruction allow for student inquiries and ideas connecting learning?