The Essentials of Project-Based Learning

Laurie Kimbrel
Laurie Kimbrel


Dr. Laurie Kimbrel, an established education administrator, serves as head of school for the recently established Brookhaven Innovation Academy in Norcross, Georgia. In this capacity, Laurie Kimbrel, EdD, oversees staff hiring and development and state requirement compliance as well as the development of the school’s project-based learning curriculum.

Project-based learning educates children using real-world situations and problems, seeking to keep students engaged and develop in them a more practical, lasting understanding of essential teachings. This specialized style of education is built around seven essentials, three of which are outlined below.

1. A need to know. By exposing students to an “entry event”, practitioners of project-based learning quickly engage the classroom and ignite animated, personalized discussion on the topic. Entry events include videos, field trips, and guest speakers.

2. A driving question. Developing a leading inquiry, phrased in an interesting way, leaves students feeling challenged and enhances their dedication to the learning process. Depending on the topic, a driving question may be general or specific, or designed to encourage students to solve a problem.

3. Student voice and choice. The projects students may undertake will address the discussed topic and question; they should be varied enough to allow for differing values and learning styles, but still limited, to accommodate the available time frame and the teacher’s personal preferences. For instance, students may be given a list of a dozen project options, from which each will choose the one most suited to his or her interests.


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