Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning


pblProject Based Learning

Learning Through Engagement and Challenge

For many years, the traditional “3 Rs” of learning – “Reading, Writing, & ‘Rithmatic” – have been the basis of a solid education.
But there’s another way of learning that’s been making its way steadily into school curriculums across the country; and it’s a way of learning that’s based on identifying and solving specific challenges by working with and within the community in a hands-on kind of way to solve them.

“I call it learning through engagement and challenge,” said Caty Sutton, Director of Randolph Union High School’s Project Based Learning Lab, now entering its fourth year. “It’s an inquiry-based approach to education that complements in-class learning by helping students experience first hand what they’re studying in class or reading in a book.”

By way of explanation, Sutton gives the following example: “What if I want to put an addition on my house. I could buy a book on carpentry and carefully follow the instructions it gives. Or I could spend a few days with a builder to see first hand how he or she does what they do. Neither of these is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. They’re just two different ways of learning. The goal of the PBL lab is to bring them both together.”

This year, the PBL lab will be working on seven different challenges, each led by a teacher who serves as the students’ facilitator. Students sign up for a project that interests them and then discuss with the teacher what the outcomes of the project could or should be. In that way, the project is essentially student led. And part of what’s unique about having students lead the course is that they come to realize that the outcomes toward which they’re working are often fluid and subject to change. Part of the students’ PBL learning experience is adjusting to those changes without losing sight of the intended outcome – or – re-assessing their intended outcome based on what’s changed.”

“In life,” Sutton said. “We make our plans, we line up our ducks, and then something happens that throws the whole thing off course. How well we succeed in life often depends on how well we adjust to unexpected changes, and how open we are to going in new directions.”

Here are the Project Based Learning initiatives for the 2017-18 academic year:

Youth-Media
Climate-Change
RAND
Interact
Restorative-Justice
Service-Learning
Digital-Music