When second graders can design a new outdoor classroom for themselves, it becomes clear that project based learning is learning by doing. Yes, really designing it, not just dreaming about it, but designing a space that can actually be build.
How about fourth graders composing and recording their own folk songs, after studying traditional music, and then making those songs available for online download.
In Portola Valley, teachers imagined those projects and many more. This summer they participated in two workshops for teachers and administrators on project based learning in which students learn the subject matter for multiple areas, while doing broad based projects, often in teams.
During the coming school year, every Ormondale and Corte Madera teacher will have their students work on at least one project, with a plan to show the end results to parents and the community in the spring.
Second-grade teachers Debbie Grech and Adam Ahlbach developed the outdoor classroom project. They plan to have students research design options and material costs, interview students and staff about their needs, and talk to local architects. Each team will create a design, write up a proposal and present it.
The teachers said the project will probably be done in phases and could take two or three years to complete.
It may not be obvious at first glance, but by working on the project, the second-graders will actually be studying math, language arts, science, social studies and art as well as using technology, said district Superintendent Lisa Gonzales.
The superintendent said teachers and administrators are excited about the concept, which she believes will help students become “creative, passionate learners who are connected, contributing global citizens.”
Ms. Gonzales said students must use entrepreneurship, teamwork and problem-solving to complete the projects.