Project Based Learning – Engaging students using a hands on approach

The Digital Age of Students

As a teacher in the digital age, I have to remember that I have to engage my students using technology.  Using the traditional book, pencil, and paper approach that were used over many years will not work with today’s students also known as digital natives.  Their world revolves around technology.  They wake up to technology, breathe and live technology during the day, and go to sleep using technology.  There is no way we can get beyond technology with today’s students.  Education is constantly changing, and we must adjust our teaching styles of the times and embrace technology for the classroom.

I have found that just reading a book and answering questions does not engage my students.  However, my juniors and seniors became engaged once I used incorporated YouTube, Smart Phones, and other forms of media into my lesson plans.  They became engaged researching the Second Amendment for a classroom debate.  My special-education students are enjoying being able to find information.  Google and YouTube are their favorite ways of finding out about information.

This is so unlike from the way I learned.  It is even a little different from the way my son and daughter learned in high school.  I am now convinced that I must change my game plan of teaching English and continue to incorporate technology into my lesson plans.  Letting my students explore the web to research and create presentations about Literature and topics will equip them with tools for their future educational experiences beyond high school.  Actually, I submitted a proposal to the Assistant Principal over special-education about creating one class that is all Project-Based Learning.  On Friday, I gave the proposal to my PAR (Peer Assisted Review) supervisor.  She thinks it would be a great idea and a wonderful experience for my future education student.

I just reread the “8 Essentials for Project-Based Learning” by John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller, Phd.   The one thing that stood out to me the second time reading it was # 4 – Student Voice and Choice.  According to Larmer and Mergendoller (2012), “This element of Project Based Learning is key.  In terms of making a project to students, the more voice and choice, the better” p3.  However, teachers should be careful not to let students have too much choice and voice.  At the end of the day, we are the teachers.  We have to set standards that fit our teaching style and subject matter.

Larmer, John and Mergendoller, John R PHD. (2012). 8 Essential for Project Based Learning. Educational Leadership, 1-4. Retrieved 4 14, 2013, from


%d bloggers like this: