O Pioneers! Exploring Project-Based Learning

O Pioneers! Exploring Project-Based Learning

Background

This year Westbrook School Department asked its teachers to participate in a choice learning project during the 1st semester of the year.  The topics of these “Choice PLCs” varied widely, and I was fortunate to participate in a group that chose to explore Project-Based Learning.  In addition to me, our group members included:

  • Courtney Anderson, WHS Spanish Teacher
  • Rebecca Bailey, WHS English Teacher
  • Allison Carmichael, WHS Special Education Teacher
  • Brian Clifford, WHS Special Education Ed Tech
  • Barry Francoeur, WHS Latin Teacher
  • Bridget Joyce, WHS English Teacher
  • Katherine Keefe, WHS Science Teacher
  • Nancy McAdam, WHS Spanish Teacher
  • Dean Morin, WHS French Teacher
  • Melissa Wilson, WHS Special Education Teacher.

What Was Your Topic?

Our topic was effectively implementing project-based learning with a particular emphasis on addressing and increasing student engagement.

What did you learn?

Like many good learners, we learned that we still have a lot more to learn. Our biggest takeaway as a group is that project-based learning requires the creation of a project-based culture, whether at an individual classroom or schoolwide scale.

To come to this conclusion, we created a list of questions that we had about designing and delivering effective and engaging project-based teaching.  Bridget Joyce conducted an interview with Marina Penalver, a colleague at King Middle School who has been teaching in a project-based system for many years.  The full video is available below.

We also started a shared folder to collect and share resources for project-based learning.

Project-Based Learning - An Interview with Marina Penalver

How will this affect our work?

We have no formal plan moving forward to continue to explore this project together, but the learning that we did together will allow us to make better design decisions if and/or when we plan and implement project-based learning in our teaching environments.