Project-Based Learning in my Lit Class

This week I did quite a bit of research to locate examples of PBL in the literature classroom.  I have a very traditional teaching style towards literature in that we read and discuss.  I would really like to make the experience more meaningful to my students.  I found several good projects on Shakespeare plays.  One teacher did a monologue project surrounding the play Othello.  Another teacher did a great study of colonialism and The Tempest, which is what I do with my AP Literature students.  We study The Tempest and Heart of Darkness together.  The project that I find most applicable to my classroom was one having to do with Romeo and Juliet.  The teacher based her leading question on a report about future work skills, incorporating a decidedly non-English framework that was interesting for the students. They worked from a great leading question that really supported all their activity.

I like to think that I am open to PBL in my teaching, but I am actually a bit apprehensive.  I learn more each year about how I can be a better teacher.  I want to make sure that I cover all the bases in creating a project so that the students aren’t left wondering what happened.  At the same time, I see how a well-executed project could really motivate students and engage them in the literature.

I think I would like to start with a leading question like:  What is justice?  Subsequent questions will help students to narrow their focus and help them to use their research to support or refute the justice present in the play.  I haven’t decided on examples for students to help them articulate their answers, but I think video, an editorial, or a re-staging of the trial might be directions that I pursue.

One important aspect that I found in my research on PBL is that the initial question is everything.  So, I am planning to start there and move forward.

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