A closer look at project-based learning
By Jaclyn Vasko and Maureen Moran
Project-based learning opportunities are a key part of what makes Thrive Public School special. Through project-based learning, children build 21st century skills like creativity and collaboration, and they see how their work can make an impact on the world.
Here is a look at just a few of the many ways, big and small, Thrive students grow with project-based learning.
Immersive experiences and field work
In project-based learning, we pose a problem or question to students and provide them the resources to learn more about the issue and design solutions to address it. Teachers design these experiences to imitate and engage with the real world, with students doing the work of professionals, from architects to reporters to biologists. Through field work, students gather first-hand data and context that allows them to take their solutions even further. Throughout the experience, we ask students to reflect on their progress and learning and to make plans for the future. As students are immersed in the process, they must adapt and create in order to address the real-world problem. Skills like collaboration and flexibility naturally and rapidly develop.
To create the best experience possible in every classroom, we devote a significant portion of our professional development time to expert Thrive teachers engaging the entire staff in a project-based learning cycle. Our unique approach allows our teachers to experience project-based learning as their students do. Teachers then are able to lead classroom project-based learning experiences nimbly and thoughtfully, turning upsets and mistakes into learning opportunities and encouraging students to deepen their thinking and enrich their products.
Connections to the community
Community involvement in project-based learning allows children to see the actual impact of their work in the world, and receive feedback from experts in their fields. There are multiple ways that community members and local organizations interact with students during project-based learning at Thrive. Organizations may consult with a teacher to develop an idea for a great final product, or even approach a teacher with a concept for a meaningful project that meets a real need in the community. Community experts regularly visit our classrooms to provide feedback to students working on a project in their field and to evaluate final projects in our showcases. Students also may hear from community members affected by an issue they are trying to solve, or head out into the community to learn more about a topic.
Parents as partners
Meaningful project-based learning opportunities come from a combination of student interest and community need, and they are always evolving based on the students in our classrooms and the world around us. Parents can support project-based learning by communicating with teachers about what sparks their children’s interest, and by serving as a community expert and connecting teachers and school staff with great organizations and individuals who could also share their expertise with students.
Project-based learning gives every Thrive student the opportunity to learn more about the world we live in, and to build the community-mindedness, career inspiration, and college readiness that is the hallmark of a Thrive graduate.
Bonus Reading: Thrive was recently recognized for our HQ-PBL (High Quality Project Based Learning) read more here