Project Based Learning in the General Music Classroom

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Go to: Matthew Gaulin

Overview and Purpose

This course is intended for music teachers, both pre-service and current, that wish to incorporate more Project Based Learning (PBL) into their general music classroom. We will discover what PBL is, how it can relate to the Arts Standards, define what makes a good PBL activity in a general music classroom, and design our own projects.

This course is split into four units. Each unit builds upon the last in terms of knowledge and application. Students will first discover what PBL is in the beginning unit, learn about the new National Core Arts Standards in the second unit, examine and analyze current PBL in the general music classroom in the third unit, and finally create their own project for implementation in the final unit. Students will read articles, watch videos, and examine real world examples of PBL.

Needs Assessment

Music educators sometimes find it difficult to incorporate PBL into their classrooms. This could be because they do not know what PBL is, they do not know what makes a good project, or they are faced with time constraints. Using PBL is a great way to make cross-curricular connections and allow students to have a deeper understanding of the content. Participants will come from all musical backgrounds including choral, instrumental, general music, theory, etc.

Performance Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  • Define project-based learning by researching what PBL is and the theories behind its success
  • Identify the National Core Art Standards by finding resources of where they can be found online and how they be used in the music classroom
  • Analyze different examples of projects in the general music classroom for structure, content, and their success
  • Create projects to use in the general music classroom

Course Units

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

Unit 1: What is Project Based Learning

  1. Students will define Project Based Learning through readings and discovery
  2. Students will identify the educational theories that lead to PBLs success through research

Unit 2: The Current State and National Standards

  1. Students will identify online resources that will provide them with the framework for the National Core Art Standards
  2. Students will examine the various examples provided by the online resources of how to implement the NCAS in the general music classroom

Unit 3: Projects in Action

  1. Students will view various real world examples of PBL in general music classroom through online research
  2. Students will analyze these projects based on how they are created and structured
  3. Students will analyze these projects based on the content that they teach
  4. Students will analyze a case study of a project and determine its success based off of the 7 essentials of a good project and a project rubric

Unit 4: Project Creation

  1. Students will map out a project that can be used in their general music classroom
  2. Students will identify a driving problem that will be the leading idea behind their project
  3. Students will identify learning objectives that will be the driving force behind project creation
  4. Students will create a timeline for how long their project will take and the various tasks that students will complete during the project
  5. Students will create assessments and rubrics for their project for how they will evaluate student and project success
  6. Students will share their project ideas with other participants for feedback on structure, content, and success

Unit 5: Final Thoughts

  1. Course take-aways
  2. Final thoughts

References and Resources

Tobias, E., Campbell, M., Robin, M., Greco, P. (2015). Bringing the curriculum to life. Enacting project-based learning in music programs. Music Educators Journal 102(2), p 39-47.

Krajcik, J. & Blumenfeld, P. (2006). Chapter 19: Project-based learning. The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences: p 317-333.