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Project-Based Learning: What is it, and how it belongs in our prepared environments 

Dr. Paul Epstein


If we are honest, there are often older children who become restless – bored perhaps? – in our prepared environments. Now six (or soon they will be six), they are transitioning to the second plane of development. They are outgrowing (or have outgrown) the design of the materials for the first plane – congruence and similarity. They are tiring of (or are already tired of) matching and sorting. Now they seek challenging learning experiences that involve equivalence.  This presentation introduces experiences with equivalence found in project-based learning. PBL involves students with investigating a topic or question that interests them and creating a real-world product – a project – that represents what they have learned about the topic or that answers their questions. As children make their projects, they develop their abilities and skills to communicate, collaborate, plan their projects, make their projects, create solutions to problems that occur, and present their completed projects. During this presentation, Paul will describe equivalence learning, define PBL, and discuss how to organize and include PBL in our Montessori prepared environments. Children will no longer be restless!


Paul Epstein

Paul is the educational director of Designs for Lifelong Learning. He has worked in education as an administrator, university professor, teacher trainer, classroom teacher, researcher, consultant, and author.

A highly regarded international and inspirational speaker, Paul brings transformative learning experiences to educators and parents throughout the world. He is the author of numerous articles and books including An Observer’s Notebook: Learning from Children with the Observation C.O.R.E. He is also the co-author of The 60-Day Montessori Observation Workbook and The Montessori Way, a definitive work on the Montessori experience.

His administrative experiences include working as a head of Montessori schools, and he brought the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program to one of the schools. Paul also works as a director and instructor of Montessori teacher education programs. He has been a Montessori classroom teacher in Montessori early childhood, middle, and high school programs.

Paul holds Montessori teacher certification in early childhood and secondary levels one and two from the American Montessori Society and his doctorate is in Cultural Anthropology.

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