I use projects constantly in my social studies courses. In fact, almost every unit in multiple disciplines I include small or large projects. Before attending Buck Institute I was feeling that I had ample times for student directed learning through projects. However, after a few hours at this conference I was exposed to the major differences between “projects” and “project based learning”. Our facilitator Jennifer D. Klein explained that we need to move from “dessert projects” to “main course projects”. After reflecting on the projects I'm using I realize that I have too many "dessert projects" and need to really implement "main course projects" in order for a deeper level of learning to take place.
Here’s a helpful image explaining the difference of “projects” and “PBL” from Megan Pacheco at New Tech Network.
One of the most powerful aspects of PBL is “Authenticity”. The last box of the image states that the “culminating event and presentations” must be “authentic demonstrations of deeper learning”. Buck Institute and PBL has shown me that in order for the deepest level of learning to take place you must create authentic moments for learning. You must connect the information to the students.