Project based, problem based, and challenge based learning are all authentic student-centered ways for students to learn. I think of the three as being separate, but also existing along a continuum, with projects being a good place to start, and problem based and challenge based being more advanced. They are all ways to keep kids engaged in their own learning, and to connect it to the use of knowledge and skills outside the classroom. Best of all, students of any age really do love to do projects.
The Buck Institute for Education says that project based learning is “a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through and extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions, and carefully designed products and tasks.” Problem based learning focuses on solving a problem, which is a more specific type of learning than project based (which includes so many various types of projects). The website Challenge Based Learning explains that “Challenge Based Learning is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems through efforts in their homes, schools and communities.”
The same way that I am working towards the “redefinition” goal on the SAMR Model, I also see Challenge Based Learning as a great goal to work towards. I’m not sure how to do this in a language class, to tell you the truth. From time to time we discuss problems that exist and how to solve them, but that is as far as we get, and even this level of discussion is rare in the first levels of French.
Currently, I would say that project based learning is what I am doing in my classroom. My COETAIL final projects have all been project based learning, and of course we have done other projects throughout the year also. Don Doehla has a great blog entry on Edutopia about using project based learning in a world language classroom— I think I’ll try his alphabet book idea next year! I’m eager to use even more projects in my classes next year, and to look for ways to push myself towards doing problem based and challenge based projects as well.