Project Based Learning

Project-based Learning: Teaching for Thinking

In project-based learning, students work in teams to explore real-world problems and create presentations to share what they have learned. A growing body of academic research supports project-based learning as a way to foster deep knowledge of subject matter, increase student self-direction and motivation, and improve student research and problem-solving skills.

Why is Project-based Learning Important?

Children learn best by doing rather than memorizing. PBL is content based and student driven. Projects are large-scale assignments that take time to complete, involve multiple activities and subjects, and require complex thinking and integration of ideas. Projects involve using all aspects of “thinking operations� – observing, comparing, interpreting, analyzing, decision-making, critiquing, summarizing, and synthesizing. Children become critical thinkers. They gather information and learn how to apply that information to problem solve, and find solutions to complex real-world problems. Projects are both relevant and student driven, so students are inspired to work harder for longer time periods. Students are well prepared for high school because they have had experience applying their knowledge to problem solving.

Teachers as Mentors and Coaches

Connections teachers act as coaches and facilitators who create structured opportunities for students to participate in decision-making, problem solving, and goal setting. Students learn to take responsibility for their own work and progress. In doing so, they gain confidence in themselves, their product, and their process as learners. While working on a project, teachers provide students with on-going, meaningful, and personalized feedback. Final products are evaluated according to a rubric: a set of criteria and standards linked to project learning objectives.

Meaningful, Challenging, Relevant Curriculum

Students and teachers solve problems using real world applications. Differentiated curriculum follows the state and district guidelines and is supplemented with field trips, guest speakers, and current events relevant to the topic of study. Curriculum incorporates multiple subjects and resources to create a rigorous, in-depth study and understanding of the material.

What is Differentiated Instruction?

Differentiated instruction is key to the Connections program. Teachers modify the curriculum to best accommodate the needs of the individual and the class as a whole, embracing the different learning styles, readiness, and intelligences that comprise the learning community. Because teachers meet students where they are developmentally and intellectually, the academic and social growth of each child is maximized.