Friday, May 6, 2011

Project Based Learning in the Freshman House

The end of May is an exciting time for 9th grade students at Zeeland East. Instead of cramming for exams students have a chance to showcase their knowledge and passions through a project based learning experience called "Our Community, Our World- The Freshman Capstone Project".

The purpose of the project is threefold: 1) provide a real-life, collaborative experience in which students can demonstrate how their core content area classes are connect to their life passions, 2) Develop knowledge about how math, science, and history are used to build and improve the community, and 3) Enhance the communication and leadership skill of the students.

This past week students were given six guiding topics to help them refine their project. The common thread woven through each of these topics is "how are math, science, and history tied to your area of interest?"

During the project week teachers serve as advisers challenging students to collaborate with one another and the community at large. Several guiding questions such as "What are you communicating to your audience? What is the significance of your topic and findings to the world?, How are you likely to use your new knowledge in the future?" shape the students research. Students also spend time throughout the day making phone calls to local businesses, inviting relatives and local experienced people to come and speak with them on their given topic.

Final presentations are set this year for June 1st in the gym at Zeeland East. The public are welcome to attend and encouraged to ask students questions regarding their findings. If you would like to know more about Project-Based Learning (PBL) this short video from the Buck Institute of Education provides a good overview.

Look for a future post showcasing some of the student's work.