Project-Based Learning in the Music Classroom

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Overview and Purpose

Think of your favorite lesson...

  • Was it hands on?
  • Were students engaged?
  • Were they collaborating?
  • Were they learning everything you wanted them to learn?
  • Was there a practical application for transfer?
  • Was it authentic?

Project-based learning is a type of learning that uses active questioning, inquiry, and peer learning to create an environment where everyone has a voice and teachers and students can collaborate together to find solutions to authentic problems. (Boss & Larmer, 2018) Authenticity in learning not only encourages transfer but also ensures that the students will be interacting with material in a way they may also interact with it in the future. In the music classroom, authenticity is often a struggle. Through the use of real problems such as hosting a talent show or planning a concert, students are able to complete authentic projects.

The goal of this mini-course is to encourage participants to implement more project-based learning in their music classrooms. Throughout the course the participants will be making goals, reflecting on the knowledge, comparing and contrasting examples of project-based learning, planning projects, and lastly implementing projects into their classroom.

Needs Assessment

Many music classrooms feel they do not have the proper amount of time or the skills in which to complete project-based learning. While project-based learning may lend itself easier to middle and high school music classrooms, with proper planning it can be used at the elementary level as well. This mini-course is meant to give participants the skills and confidence in which to facilitate and implement projects into the music classroom. This mini-course is meant to greet participants wherever their knowledge lies and help them move forward. The only attitude needed moving forward is an optimistic attitude!

Performance Objectives

  • Given specific reading articles and examples, the participant will describe project-based learning in their own words.
  • Given a rubric, the participant will plan and outline an authentic project for their classroom.
  • Given the knowledge gained from the mini-course, the participant will implement and facilitate an authentic project for their classroom.

Course Lessons

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Lesson 1: Project-Based Learning

This unit covers the basis of what project-based learning is. In this unit the participant will read about and watch examples of project-based learning. In this unit the participant will also create goals they have for this mini-course.

Objectives

  • Participants will define project-based learning.
  • Participants will create trackable goals for the mini-course.

Lesson 2: Benefits of Project-Based Learning

This unit covers the benefits of using project-based learning in a classroom. In this unit the participant will analyze statistics and real life examples to draw personal conclusions about the benefits of project-based learning.

Objectives

  • Participants will identify and describe the benefits of project-based learning.

Lesson 3: Project-Based Learning in the Music Classroom

This unit covers what project-based learning looks like in a music classroom and the benefits of using it in the music classroom. This unit will again provide real-life examples and statistics about project-based learning in the music classroom and will conclude with participants compiling a list of potential units they would like to create projects for.

Objectives

  • Participants will describe positive examples of project-based learning in the music classroom.
  • Participants will compile a list of units they would like to create projects for.

Lesson 4: Implementing and Executing Authentic Projects in the Music Classroom

This unit focuses on planning an authentic project for the music classroom and also provides tools and guidance to help implement the project successfully.

Objectives

  • Participants will design an authentic project for the music classroom.
  • Participants will implement an authentic project for the music classroom.
  • Participants will reflect on the work of their peers and themselves.

Extended Resources

Boss, S., & Larmer, J. (2018). Project based teaching: how to create rigorous and engaging learning experiences. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.