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Project-Based Learning

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This information is about December’s PBL Units.  (The holidays have distracted one of your webmasters, so this is coming out late.  Sorry!)

Based on the framework used by the Buck Institute, Project Based Learning allows students to apply their skills to complete a project or solve a problem.  This instructional format is structured with teachers planning for ways students can engage their voice and choice in working with a problem.  Students learn communication and collaboration skills as they develop a plan and conduct research.  Interviews are one type of research our students do.  While this type of instruction takes more “pre-planning” by teachers,  we find that our students are highly engaged during the learning process.

Each PBL unit has similar elements that include the following items:

  • Road Map – A visual timeline of the PBL unit that includes check in and completion points to help students understand where they are in the process.
  • Entry Event – A real life connection to learning is presented in the Entry event.  Second grade’s current project was “a need identified by our PTA” to inform future Thunderbirds about our school.
  • Rubrics and Learning Targets – By stating clearly what they are to learn and providing quality examples, our teachers ensure that students clearly understand the learning expectation.
  • Presentation – This is an opportunity for students to present their new learning to an audience of peers, parents, or community.

These were the projects our Thunderbirds were working on in December at THES.

First Grade – They have completed their Native American PBL and presented to either fourth grade students or parents.  For photos:  Native American PBL

Second Grade –  They are completing a guide of THES for future parents. Each partner pair in second grade selected a specific component of THES to research. This may be Student Council, our Tech program, or our Wellness Warriors.  As the pairs develop questions for the interview, they focus on what makes this program unique.  Critically thinking to understand what information they need and what information may not be as important.  You can see the book they created on campus, or here:  Travis Heights PBL

Third Grade – Students are in their second PBL of the year.  Market Days allow partner students to create and sell a product to their peers. These are developed by the students and  a net gross and profit statement are created as part of the culmination of the project. This initial lesson builds skills that will be used in later projects.

Fifth Grade – Students began their food trailer last week.  In developing a business plan, partner teams create build upon their experience and create a business plan for a food truck. This includes developing the product, the cost, sales, and a sales plan.  See Photos and more information here: Food Truck PBL

Exploring learning through the lens of real life keeps students excited about coming to school.

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