Why I Chose PBL

November 15, 2017

Trisha Burns

What makes Project Based Learning the best learning environment for students? Let’s ask the experts!  Four students from Columbus Signature Academy (CSA) were asked to share about why they chose to be a part of a PBL school. CSA is a K-12 pathway where Project Based Learning (PBL) guides the learning process. Each of these students have different levels of experience with PBL and each one of them shares about those experiences below:

In years past at school, I would get very bored and not get involved in classes. From K-6 I went to a standards based elementary school. I liked it, but I love CSA! In my mind, the CSA program has helped me to be way more involved in class. This is the second year that I have been on the CSA program. I think it has really helped me to become a better student as well as a better group member. The CSA program is all about Project Based Learning. If you don’t like sitting in class, but you love projects then this is the way to go. CSA also teaches you to become better at public speaking. This helps you become a better student and helps you be able to get in front of the class. It also will help you in your future classes, especially if you choose to go through with the CSA program. CSA is all also about hands on learning. In CSA, you will be graded on the projects with the New Tech Network rubric. I liked my elementary school, but I love CSA better.  -Harley G. (8th grader)
I have been in PBL my whole school life. I have the most experience with PBL that I can get so far, which means I’ve become skilled in some of the things we do in the program. One of the best things in PBL in my opinion is the projects. I recall one day my mother was doing a presentation for her work and had no idea how to use the presentation software. Me being the suave PBL person I am, I helped her set it up and added a few cool effects I’ve learned in the long run. It made me feel happy that I know I will use what I’ve learned to my advantage when I am an adult. Although, don’t let me forget how we make these presentations or should I say who we do it with. One of the most important things in PBL is collaboration; without it you would just be on a normal team. I’m not saying traditional teams don’t collaborate, but definitely not as much as PBL teams do. Working together can be hard, but it really gives you a bond and friendship with the people in your group. A project usually could last for 2 weeks or even a whole quarter. So, basically we are working with our peers for a long period of time where it’s very mandatory to work together in harmony or you get a bad grade. No one wants a bad grade, right? So you end up learning and knowing a lot about them and I don’t think I’ve ever not stayed friends with a person I’ve been in a group with. One of the things I like is how PBL prepares me for the future. I think PBL is the closest thing to a college and adult environment I can be part of, and this makes me excited and ready for the future. These are some reasons I choose PBL over anything else, and if I could personally thank the PBL program, as if it was a person, I would write a 30 page essay to be completely honest. I am so thankful to be apart of something greater than me.
– Karly H. (8th grader)

PBL is a very good way of learning because it is a way of having fun at school while learning. Picking the team,CSAM8, is probably the best choice of my life. I used to be the shyest person in the world before I was in PBL. Then when I was greeted with the warm hearted teachers and students I became the social person I am today. Just a couple of weeks into school I started getting A’s and B’s. I don’t remember the last time I had a C on my report card. This last sentence is for the teachers trying their best to learn about PBL. PBL will give you the easiest time in the world at your teaching job. All the teachers at CSAM8 are amazing people because they taught me the most important life lesson and that lesson is never give up no matter how hard something is. These amazing teachers changed my life. Without them I wouldn’t be the A and B student I am today. So please future PBL teachers help more kids understand that learning can be fun and that you are there for them to push them to their best transformation.
-Nate C. (8th grader)

Why PBL works for me is because I learn best through projects.  PBL works best for me because I like to collaborate with others so I don’t have to sit at my desk all day.  I get to talk with others.  Another thing that helps me is a thing called Kagan structures (these are protocols that help guide student discussion). We used it a lot in seventh grade.  It helps because you get to get up and do certain collaboration exercises.  I am glad I joined CSA and (can learn through) PBL. I can’t wait to go to New Tech High School after I get this 8th grade journey finished.  Every day brings a new challenge!
-Cory L. ( 8th grader)

These four are a glimpse into the 220 different CSA Central student stories.  PBL teaches students to be more involved in class, how to collaborate, develop skills needed in jobs, how to persist through challenges, and gives them hands-on-learning opportunities.  As you can see our PBL program develops many skills in students, and we enjoy seeing them thrive in this environment. Consider bringing PBL to your school!

Trisha Burns is an 8th grade math facilitator at CSA Central Campus in Columbus, Indiana. She is a certified teacher and trainer through the New Tech Network and certified through ICPBL for project-based learning in Indiana. She has taught in the classroom since 2009 and facilitates for Magnify Learning in the summer. When she is not developing and implementing projects in her class room she loves to hang out with her family and scrapbook their memories!
This blog originally appeared in Magnify Learning.

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