Tips for managing project-based learning in the summer

June 21, 2021

Project-based learning is a form of education that resembles life in the real world, rather than a closed-off schoolroom. Students are asked to develop an original solution to a challenge given by the teacher. 

Much has been written about the need to keep young people mentally engaged through the summertime. If you’re an educator leading project-based learning curriculum (of any size), you have an advantage over most teachers. You know there are tons of ways to guide students on a learning journey while they’re having fun this summer.

If you’re new to this type of education, here are some tips for managing project-based learning this summer, especially for teenage students. 

Schedule the semester like the real world

Hiring managers want job candidates to demonstrate time management skills. Get your teenage students accustomed to real-world schedules, even in the summer. Sure, the hours aren’t the same, but the principle remains. 

Break up the semester schedule into daily and weekly chunks. You can do this while preserving a flexible project atmosphere. Plan short check-ins, and have the students do the same with each other. Articulate daily and weekly tasks to keep the teens motivated. They can easily see where they’re going and where they’ve been.

Get help when you need it

Help comes in all sorts of forms. Sometimes it’s as simple as programming more free time into your students’ calendars. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed or behind, seek out help.

The internet is amazing. You have free access to countless hours of video and text resources that can propel you through curriculum roadblocks or project dilemmas. The hardest part is letting yourself be humble enough to see that you need support. 

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Teenagers are able to work independently, but teams are integral to success. Just like adults in the workplace, student collaboration doesn’t always work as planned. 

As the educator, show the students proof of what they can accomplish through teamwork. And as a counterpoint, give an example of the pitfalls of work performed by isolated team members. Be careful to avoid trite examples, or they won’t see the gravity of your advice.

Plan easy wins for students

Add types of team-building assignments into the routine. Make the tasks easy enough that they can be accomplished in a short period to give a dopamine boost in the brain. 

Practice makes practice. The more your teens can collaborate through low-stress work, the better prepared they’ll be for the workforce environment.

Look back on how far you’ve come

A football coach debriefs the team after every game, whether they win or lose. Just like a sports team, evaluate what led to success and what led to failure or missteps. 

It’s important to look back on progress so you can strengthen your curriculum planning and as a journey map to encourage students. 

Stay engaged!

Project-based learning motivates students when they play an active role, can measure success, and are held accountable for their work. Do what you can to keep everyone engaged, both independently and as a group. 

Do you have any project-based learning success stories in your spikeview portfolio? We’d love for you to share!