Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Project based vs menu driven learning?

I was looking at a link to project based learning ideas and realized for as long as I've been teaching and as long as I've heard of project based learning, I still am rather unclear about it.  This is even though I worked in a district with levels, end of level tests and the idea of moving towards project based learning.  From my understanding, you assign a project, have the students work through each part of the project and at the end, they turn in the final project and in the process, they have learned several to apply several math standards.  In menu driven learning, students are taught the material, given the menu to create several small projects based on learning styles to turn in for points. 
Where my thoughts are going with this is are they mutually exclusive.  Can you create the over all project and break the parts down into a menu so each student or groups of students will be able to create the final project using different smaller parts that works best for them.  I realize each project will have to broken down into steps so students are not overwhelmed but could each step have three different choices on how to accomplish it?  Since so many of my students are ESL, I have to do a break down so each student knows the steps they have to follow but not necessarily how to do each step.  For instance, when I assign the "Design your dream bedroom" I have them draw 6 scale drawings to show the 4 walls, floor and ceiling so I know where all the windows, doors, lights, and how the room itself looks.  I then have them create an estimate for the finishing cost of the room including flooring, paint, wall paper, ceiling tiles, etc.  I need to look at being able to combine both projects and menus to give students a better choice and increase their learning.