Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method that engages students in high levels of academic rigor while also increasing their capacity to think critically, work collaboratively, and deepen their empathy for others.
PBL at Saklan
While the term project based learning has many interpretations, Saklan units are carefully designed by our teachers to address academic standards and social emotional learning (SEL) goals. Other key aspects of Saklan PBL units include:
Driving Questions and Final Projects
High quality PBL is guided by a driving question. Driving questions must be complex and open-ended to sustain student’s engagement across the length of a project and they may be presented by teachers or co-created with students at the start of a unit. They are grounded in student-driven inquiry or relevant problems that students see in the world around them. PBL at Saklan makes learning come alive for students by engaging in authentic, complex, and relevant tasks that take their learning beyond the classroom, often through public presentations or civic engagement. Below are a few examples of recent Saklan driving questions, academic content areas, and final projects.
|Grade||Driving Question||Content Areas||Final Project|
|Kinder||What does our apple tree need to thrive?||
|School-based advocacy to educate ECE students and grounds maintenance teams on apple tree care.|
|3rd||How can we show respect for the people whose ancestral land Saklan is on?||
|Saklan Land Acknowledgement|
|4th||What are the lasting impacts of the CA Gold Rush?||
|Historical fiction graphic novel|
|6th||What can the echoes of Greek life and mythology teach us about our lives today?||
|School site museum installation|
How is PBL different from doing a project?
During PBL units the learning happens through the creation of a project that helps students answer a question or solve a relevant problem.
The PBL Works analogy of “dessert” versus “main course” projects helps illustrate what sets Saklan PBL apart from other interpretations of project based learning. As with any meal, we can look forward to and enjoy dessert, but it’s the main course that really feeds us. At Saklan we strive to provide students opportunities to engage in main course project work, otherwise called high quality or “gold standard” PBL.
Dessert projects can be engaging and require critical thinking. However, the demonstration of understanding, often referred to as the “project,” can be separated from the process of learning. Dessert projects may often look like students learning the content through lectures or reading followed by making something that demonstrates memorization of the content such as a poster, google slideshow, or essay.
In a main course project, also known as a high quality or “gold standard” PBL unit, the completion of the project is what drives the learning of the content. The driving question is introduced at the start of the unit and the creation of the project ecompasses all the learning of the standards throughout various milestones along the way.
Read more about PBL Works dessert vs main course project distinctions here.
What are milestones?
PBL units build towards answering the driving question through meeting milestones along the way. Milestones can be thought of as the building blocks, steps, or chapter titles for the knowledge students build in order to get to their final product. A milestone will typically have one or more formative assessment that helps teachers track student progress and understanding as they build towards their final project.
How long are PBL units?