George Lucas Educational Foundation

PBL in First Grade

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Just moved to first grade and would love to try PBL with them, but also know that reading is a priority for that grade. I have limited knowledge on PBL. Is PBL mainly science and social studies? Do you drop everything else and this takes its place? I'm concerned about the foundational skills that need to be practiced in first grade.

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Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Nancy,
This is a great question, and I don't think it necessarily has a simple answer.

PBL can work wherever you can make it work, it's not just science or social studies.

PBL is a way of augmenting your instruction, but it should still be just as focused on making sure you meet your standards as before.

PBL doesn't and probably shouldn't replace all of your other instructional strategies. It's something you should add to your toolkit. I'm a big proponent of experiential learning, but that doesn't mean that I don't also o direct instruction.

Since you have limited knowledge of PBL, I'd strongly recommend taking a look at Edutopia's other PBL resources, of course but you might want to consider seeing if you can get some other PD around this, whether at a conference or through a university. Teaching with PBL is incredibly important, but it's also incredibly challenging when you're making the transition from more traditional forms of instruction, because you have to break some bad habits you may have built up over the years, particularly in the areas of how much and what kinds of guidance you provide to students who are working their way through a problem.

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