MANSFIELD — Dan Jones doesn’t want his students to sit idly by with their eyes glazed over when they’re in his classroom.
Instead, he wants them to take ownership of their education and be active participants in the learning process. This is made easier, he’s found, with the implementation of project-based learning.
“I’ve had a lot of success with project-based learning in my classroom,” the Richland School of Academic Arts teacher said.
Essentially, project-based learning allows students to learn through a project, he said.
“Instead of the project occurring at the end of a unit, it is your actual learning tool throughout the course of the unit, so they learn content and then they directly apply it,” he explained.
When introducing a new lesson in his classroom, he encourages students to research the topic and compile as much information they can. Students then have the opportunity to share with their peers what they learned and decide how they would like to represent what they learned via a project of their own design.
“They are completely in control of their project and its design,” Jones said. Past projects have come in the form of Minecraft, game boards, clothing, masks, etc.
“They get an idea, run with it and that increases their buy-in to the project itself and the learning,” he said. “So every day when they learn a new piece, they can add it to their project.”
As a result, he’s found project-based learning can help create an active learning environment instead of a passive one.
“The students are always doing something,” he said. “They’re never just sitting, listening to me talk in class. They’re applying their knowledge, researching. There’s always something.”
Jones, a Bellville resident, decided he was going to start writing about project-based learning when coupled with flipped learning.
“Flipped learning says I need you to essentially address the lecture side of things at home in an individual space and when you come to class, we’re going to work together on the application of the content,” he said.
He called flipped learning a “metastrategy” for teaching.
“If you think about it like a computer, the flipped learning piece would be your operating system and the way in which you teach is a program that runs on that operating system,” he said.
“Flipped learning is what I would say is the best operating system for project-based learning to run on.”
Jones became a master flip educator early last year. He is among 20 master flip teachers worldwide, approximately 10 of whom are in the United States.
He is now able to train other educators on how to incorporate flipped learning in the classroom and has been offering workshops to his colleagues at Richland School of Academic Arts.
Now, educators across the globe can learn more about this method of instruction via his book, “Flipped 3.0 Project Based Learning: An Insanely Simple Guide.”
The book, which took about 10 months to write, released on April 15 and can be ordered here. Jones anticipates that it will also be sold on Amazon.
Jones said he hopes to write more books in the future and is consistenty writing publications for the Flipped Learning Global Initiative as a founding international faculty member.
Jones is in his 13th year of teaching. He previously taught at Bucyrus High School and Middle School, as well as Discovery School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Ashland University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with a focus in digital teaching and learning, from American College of Education.