TransformSC Project-Based Learning Institute Inspires South Carolina Educators to take a dynamic approach to education

Columbia, SC – On April 18, 2018, the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness’ education initiative, TransformSC, held its second projectbased learning institute.

Nearly 200 educators from across the state gathered at Columbia’s Spirit Communications baseball park to explore new and dynamic ways to integrate projectbased learning into their classrooms.

Projectbased learning (PBL) is quickly becoming well-established as one of the most popular approaches to transforming education.  PBL is a hands-on approach to learning that challenges students to apply information presented by teachers by working in teams to explore real-world problems and find creative solutions to challenges.

Attendees heard from a panel of students who shared their personal stories on how projectbased learning is changing the way they retain information and teaching them soft-skills, such as giving and receiving constructive criticism, decision-making, public speaking, and time-management.

“I think I learn more because it’s hands-on and I have to learn other things like working in a group and communicating in a way that works with people,” said Veronica Lennon,  a high school junior from Richland County School District Two.

Suzie Boss, author and renowned projectbased learning expert, along with her colleagues Matt Thompson and Kelley McKaig, led a series of breakout sessions that required attendees to engage in their own version of projectbased learning.  The educators grouped together to discuss the challenges and successes they’re experienced in integrating projectbased learning in their classrooms and participate in hands-on activities that further emphasized the value of projectbased learning.

Boss says that she has seen first-hand how projectbased learning can make an impact beyond the classroom. “I have been an advocate of projectbased learning for a long time because I have seen what it can do for students, teachers and for communities,” she says.

Projectbased learning gives students a more engaging way to learn allowing them to learn on a deeper level in a way that really sticks with them. It gives them a really strong memory and helps them see what they are really capable of.  It is also a really energizing way for educators to teach and often involves collaboration with other teachers and with partners outside the classroom. Many teachers talk about how it rejuvenates them and reminds them of why they went into teaching in the first place. [Project Based Learning] builds really strong relationships with their students. For communities, it’s a nice chance for communities to engage with their schools, to show their expertise in important ways and often to benefit from important work that the students are doing. So I think all around it’s a win, win, win.”