Problem-based learning with English learners

Hello colleagues, I have found that engaging learners in projects has been a most meaningful aspect of my practice as a teacher. When we identify a problem or issue learners care about, the projects are that much more effective. Projects that we've worked on include digital stories, researching and then presenting on the lives of historical figures, conducting surveys and then presenting the results on topics of interest to learners, researching the electoral college, researching the best employment opportunities in our community, creating videos or posters on topics of interest or concern to learners, etc.  

If you are interested in exploring problem-based or project-based learning, check out this resource in the LINCS Collection. As noted in the review ...

"The most useful feature of this resource is its comprehensive presentation of concrete guidelines and considerations for instructors to use in each phase of the PBL activity, including

  • a list of criteria to use in assessing the effectiveness and appropriateness of this approach;
  • suggestions on how to correct errors in its implementation;
  • print and online sources to use in planning PBL scenarios; and
  • an example scenario."

You are invited to tell us here on LINCS about the problem- or project-based learning you've done in your class. Please feel free to pose questions to your peers as well!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP



Thanks for sharing this resource Susan.

I love the idea of project based learning - it seems to make sense on a practical level as well being backed up by research. However, my question is how do you encourage teachers to incorporate project-based learning into their classrooms when they already have a curriculum/textbook? As an administrator (as well as a teacher) my question is always should this come from me or should I encourage teachers to do this on their own? The resource article mentions this as well, so I'd be curious what other folks think. 

Do you see PBL as something to get instructors to do on their own or something to incorporate into your curriculum as a whole? 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 

Hi Katie, You are asking a pertinent question, especially given the part-time nature of our field. While PBL is a highly effective approach to teaching, it does take time for teachers to plan and implement. I also think teachers need to see some effective PBL models. Training and support would also be important.

How about it, members? What recommendations do you have for Katie and the rest of us? For example, can you recommend any useful videos of classes engaged in PBL? If we want to integrate problem- and project-based learning, what steps can we take?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP