We want students to graduate with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and collaboration abilities that will allow them to be successful in a post-secondary institution, job or in the military. This year we are thrilled to expand our project based learning curriculum (PBL).
Southport Elementary is introducing PBL to students through a collaboration with Magnify Learning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the use of high-quality PBL by offering professional development through workshops, continuous coaching and other resources.
PBL presents students with a real-world problem and equips them with the skills to meet the challenge. Project-based curriculum uses engagement to influence student achievement. Teachers don’t simply tell students why something is the way it is. Instead, they show them why by building the scholars’ skills in collaboration, communication and critical thinking. By solving problems, students learn to take calculated risks.
Through our partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, teachers are able to easily integrate PBL into our curriculum best practices. A bonus benefit of project based learning extends beyond the classroom. It can also help build community partnerships because students are trying to solve problems that exist in the real world.
For example, third-grade students in Ms. Tinkler’s class are trying to positively impact the ecosystem. As students design and engineer prototypes to protect the ecosystem, they use English language arts and informational writing to propose their solutions. The end project will then be taken to the Indianapolis Zoo, which will evaluate it. This process will allow students to receive powerful feedback from peers as well as guidance from zoo leaders.
It creates a unique opportunity for students to stretch their minds beyond classroom textbooks while allowing them and staff to build relationships with decision makers who may not be available to them otherwise.
The PBL approach is a complement to the lessons many of our schools have been teaching through Project Lead the Way, a hands-on, problem-based program that makes math and science relevant for students.
By engaging in hands-on, real-world projects, students understand how the skills they are learning in the classroom can be applied in everyday life. For more information about Magnify Learning and PBL, visit magnifylearningin.org. To learn about Project Lead the Way, visit pltw.org