Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a great way to support 21st century skills.  Real-world scenarios make it much easier for students to understand what exactly they are learning and why.  When given the opportunity to experience problems hands-on, the subject/topic becomes more meaningful to students.  Working out of a book and just doing problems doesn’t help students want to learn because they don’t know why they are doing it.  Project-based learning emphasizes learning activities that are student-centered and integrated with real-world issues.
A project-based lesson in math could be a Geometry Map Project:  students are required to design a map that includes lines, angles, and triangles.  The map can be of a neighborhood town, city, or state.  The map must include the following as a minimum:  two sets of streets that are parallel, two sets of streets that are perpendicular, one street that intersects another street to form an obtuse angle, one street intersects another to form an acute angle, one street that is a line segment, one street that is a line, one street that is a ray, one building in the shape of an equilateral triangle, one building that is in the shape of a scalene triangle, and one building that combines three different geometric shapes in its design.  This project combines important words that are learned when studying Geometry.  Students must put together a Geometry Map that correctly portrays each idea.  Students may face some challenges if they do not thoroughly understand each geometrical concept.  Some students may also have trouble if they are not comfortable using a ruler and a protractor.  Those are necessary tools needed in order to construct the map properly.  Overall, this project-based learning activity will give great insight as to whether or not your students truly understand key geometrical concepts.  Completing this project will also help students understand why it is they have to learn about lines and shapes!   


  1. I feel that real world applicability is especially important in math and science. Not a math person, I was one of those dreaded students who was always asking "why do we have to learn this, I'll never use it again..." I think it would have helped me a lot if I had a sense of how the math I was learning was used in the real world.

    This is kind of off topic, but I also wish that the history of math and science was incorporated more into the teaching of math in high school. Being naturally interested in the Humanities, I think my inroad into math and science would have been studying the philosophical ideas behind it and the way it interacted with history, politics, etc, (the clash between Galileo and the Church, for instance). If I had been given some of this context I might have been more eager and excited to work through the math problems.

  2. Great ideas, Megan. I also can relate to Katie's desire to have the humanities brought into the math classroom. It very likely would have been the hook needed to get me to connect with the subject.