Students engaged and successful with Project–Based Learning at any grade level!
Mrs. Joanna Heller, a kindergarten teacher at Clay Elementary School, is entering her second year of Project-Based Learning with kindergarten students. “I initially decided to pursue PBL because I was curious and eager to learn new ways to implement rigorous instruction. I decided to continue to pursue PBL because I saw how effective, engaging and FUN it was. PBL helped me reach kids that would have otherwise fallen short of grade-level expectations. I saw my students FULLY engaged, excited to learn and successful in mastering their goals,” says Joanna.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Mrs. Heller launched Project-Based Learning during writing instruction for her kindergarten students in an effort to increase motivation for writing. Within a few weeks, Project-Based Learning came to the rescue and completely transformed not only her students’writing achievement, but also their attitudes towards the critical skill. “They were excited to write and not only did they meet their writing goals, they exceeded them! Seeing their confidence and eagerness to learn was so rewarding,” says Joanna.
Over the summer, she met with other veteran Project-Based Learning teachers in Cobb to discuss and revise previously designed projects. Here is Joanna’s advice for any teacher who is having difficulty deciding on whether or not to try Project-Based Learning, “It works! It’s rigor without being rigid! The kids DIVE into the content, show SO much confidence and take complete ownership of their learning. It may seem like a lot of work to get started, but once you begin, the excitement of the students is contagious! Just give it a try, be patient with yourself as you learn and adapt and give yourself a year to work out the kinks.
Mrs. Semeka Samuels, a 7th grade social studies teacher at Tapp Middle School, has nearly a decade of experience with teaching through Project/Problem- Based Learning. “My teaching career started in a PBL elementary school around nine years ago. Over the years, I’ve learned that students are most engaged when they have an active role in the learning process. Problem-based learning places the students’ critical thinking and problem-solving at the core of the instructional process. The students are able to develop life-long skills, cooperation skills and learn beyond the standard in a Project-Based Learning classroom. I continue to teach some of my units through the PBL model in order to provide students with an opportunity to make a REAL difference in their community/lives. Project-Based Learning allows students to become a part of something outside of themselves and that is authentic learning,” says Semeka.
As a result of implementing Project-Based Learning, Mrs. Samuels’ students are both motivated to learn and anxious to share their learning with others. In addition, her students attain higher achievement on common assessments when units are taught through the innovative practice of Project-Based Learning.
Tiffany Honore´, Director
Delores Thompson, Supervisor
Natalie Hutchins, Supervisor
Contributing Authors: Danielle Hickerson, Academic Coach