The Buck Institute for Education is a non-profit organization that “creates, gathers, and shares high-quality project-based learning (PBL) instructional practices and products and provides highly effective services to teachers, schools, and districts.” The site includes many free resources and tools, and supports a community of educators interested in PBL-related issues.
Developed by: Buck Institute for Education
Audience: Educators, administrators, and parents
Potential Use: Professional development
This is a great site for teachers and school leaders of any grade-level to spark ideas on how to incorporate more PBL into their classes and to evaluate existing or plan new projects that will motivate students.
The notion of learning by doing has deep theoretical roots, from the writings of Confucius and Socrates to John Dewey and Maria Montessori. Project-based learning (PBL) has since evolved as an instructional approach that addresses core content through relevant, hands-on learning—challenging students to solve “real world” problems. Open-ended questions prompt students, working collaboratively, to research or construct their own solutions. Students then share their own work for authentic audiences.
The Buck Institute for Education stands out for the depth and breadth of their PBL resources. They provide an overview of PBL and many free resources their website. These resources include project planning tools, student handouts (a letter to parents, a project team contract, a presentation checklist, etc.), and various rubrics and articles. In addition, the Buck Institute has many dynamic ways in which they share new information and facilitate networking among educators interested in PBL.
Good to know: a Road Map to this Resource
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On the home page there is a link to learn more about PBL which leads to an overview. There are many different ways to access the resources on the site: answer one of the questions in the top banner to be directed to relevant resources; alternatively, scroll down the page to find a horizontal list of Featured PBL Resources and resources Recommended for You; finally, browse through lists of the three types of resources in BIE’s extensive database by clicking on Read, Watch, or Interact.
BIE’s database of resources is extensive and well organized. In the center of the page, there are links to browse all the resources of three different media types: Read (blogs, books, articles, rubrics and handouts, curriculum, etc.), Watch (videos, recorded Google Hangouts and webinars), and Interact (includes live events such as webinars, twitter chats, etc.; online classes; conferences; websites; online tools; etc.). There is also a search by keyword on the right hand side. And probably most useful, users can conduct a specific search using a guided filtering tool; narrow results by Media Types, Audience, Experience, and Grade-level. Most resources include three pieces of information: “What is It?”, “Why We Like It?” and “What You Can Do with It”. Under that is a preview of the resource.
The Community section of the site is very robust. BIE uses eight different social media networks to share content and connect professionals interested in PBL. On this page you can read an overview of the ways BIE is using each network. Click on “more” to jump in. Non-members of the social network will be prompted to join when clicking on the network page.
- Make sure to check out the resources Recommended for You on the bottom of each page. This is a great way to find tools and further reading you might like.
- On the home page features a large banner at the top with changing content. This can be used as a guide to relevant resources. Just click on a checkbox or enter in a key word to provide a little information to personalize your experience.
Why PBL: In the About section are two pages, What is PBL and Why PBL, which provide a very nice short overview.
Project-Based Learning Explained: This three and a half minute animated video provides a quick overview of PBL.
Project Design Rubric: This document is designed to evaluate the quality of an existing project using the 8 essential components of PBL.
Project Team Work Plan: This is a planning document for a student team. Don’t forget to use the categories on the right to pull up all the student handouts.
Recorded Google Hangouts: These live sessions are all recorded as YouTube videos and archived. They include dynamic talks with PBL experts and educators on topics such as “Assessment in PBL”, “Creativity and Innovation in Middle and High School Projects”, and “Managing Projects in Elementary Schools”.
The BIE Community utilizes social media networks to share and learn. Communities exist on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, Edmodo, Youtube, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
How does this align with student-centered learning research and practice?
Few pedagogical approaches have been as strongly linked with student motivation and engagement as project-based learning. Student motivation, and the research behind it, is explored in Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice. This also links to strongly to the Students at the Center framework, specifically “Anytime, Anywhere”.