The core idea of project-based learning is that real-world concerns capture students' interest and provoke serious thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. Project-based learning helps prepare students for thinking and collaboration skills.
Organized around open-ended questioning, project-based learning helps focus the students' work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues or problems. Projects begin by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then, once learned, allow them to apply them. It requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new - an idea, an interpretation, or a new way of displaying what they have learned.
Most importantly, it requires critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. Students need to do much more than remember information—they need to use higher-order thinking skills. They also must learn to work as a team and contribute to a group effort. They must listen to others and make their ideas clear when speaking, be able to read a variety of material, write or otherwise express themselves in various modes, and make effective presentations. The format of this approach allows for student voice and choice. Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices. The opportunity to make choices, and to express their learning in their voice, also helps to increase students' educational engagement.
Within the activities in this unit, literacy strategies and approaches include reading comprehension designed to help students understand what they hear. They will identify how language, structure, and presentation contribute to meaning; draw inferences such as characters’ feelings, thoughts, and motives from their actions and image; and justify inferences with evidence. Writing strategies will focus on students planning their writing by identifying the audience for and purpose of the writing (creating illustrations to support a story), selecting the appropriate form, and using other similar writing as models for their drawing and painting as they share their ideas, experiences, and imagination.