A project based learning museum is hosted by a middle school in a district that is focused on hands on learning.
At Spencer Middle School eighth grade students recently presented projects that were part of their study of history and language arts. They were from a unit on civil rights, but went as far back in history as Bleeding Kansas, a violent confrontation before the civil war between the anti-slavery “Free Staters” and pro-slavery “Border Ruffian.”
“I think most of the students really enjoyed the work. As in any situation, sometimes students were frustrated with each other because maybe they weren’t carrying the load they were supposed to be carrying. It’s human nature, as they got to the final day, they pulled it together very well,” said eighth-grade language arts teacher Becky Koenig.
The success of the project based learning focus began last year, propelling it to a complete goal of using projects as a measurement of learning instead of traditional testing.
“I think that the most important thing is to give students choice and voice. So they get to choose how they research it, how they are going to present it and how they are going to work with other members of their team,” Koenig said. “That’s where the traditional classroom ends, we expand on that. Students did a lot of work outside of the school day, too. There were some kids who created their projects outside at a park, some were working on weekends with their peers. I think that with projects, the traditional classroom is not really involved here.”