- Charles Laurent is a 4th-grade teacher who pulls together social studies, literacy and math into one project-based learning experience for his students, and for a recent project, he had students look for ways to bring some attention to a landmark in Rhode Island, where his school is based.
- The project required multiple tools, from understanding the historic period when the landmark was built to organizing and completing a presentation, Laurent writes for Edutopia, and students are constantly asked to evaluate themselves in daily journals as they work on their project.
- Students turned their landmark project into an op-ed that their local newspaper published, built a web site, and also held presentations at a local high school and for members of their community.
The best learning is never a "read, memorize and test" experience. When students can create their own projects, with guidance from a teacher, they are more engaged and have better learning outcomes, notes the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
But designing project-based learning experiences is a time-intensive process particularly for educators. Administrators who want to bring more of these projects to students also need to make sure teachers have the time to prepare and manage these activities. That means allowing time to evaluate how students are doing, being able to make course corrections if some pupils are falling behind, and providing resources to create and plan the projects.
The result, though, is the kind of experience that Rocky Hill School’s Laurent discovered — students who are so excited about coming to class and learning that they’re asking to learn more skills, and fueling their own passion for their education.