Project-based learning takes flight at Weiss Elementary

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Thanks to Martin Weiss Elementary School’s first project-based learning (PBL) showcase, the school’s gym is filled with students debating the pros and cons of a dress code, an exhibit on a student-led news program, and much, much more.

Teachers, family, and community members walk around the gym, enjoying the fruits of the hard work the students put in during the first six weeks of school. The event showcases Weiss Elementary’s increased focused on PBL, which combines the teaching of standard skills with tangible hands-on projects.

“Students are engaged most when they have a hands-on learning experience that is rigorous, relevant, exciting, and connected to the real world,” Weiss Principal Shundra Brown said. “project-based learning is part of a holistic approach to teaching and learning.”

FullSizeRender[1]Brown personally witnessed the benefits of PBL last year. In the spring, the school implemented a pilot PBL program for a cohort of fifth-grade students. Overall, the students in the project-based learning pilot program went from 21 percent mastery to 75 percent mastery of the subject.

“After witnessing the huge benefits, the school decided to scale PBL to all grade levels this year,” Brown said. “And we’ve been seeing great results so far.”

Weiss Elementary this year is holding the PBL showcase at the end of each six-week project period. For parents and family, the showcase is an opportunity to enjoy the students’ work that helps prepare them for the 21st century.

“By doing projects and coming together, they can learn and experience how things go in life,” said Cynthia Jenkins, a grandparent of a student at Weiss.

Mohammed Choudhury, director of Transformation and Innovation, reiterated that research affirms that well designed project-based learning results in deeper learning and engaged, self-directed learners.

“In the 21st century workplace and in college, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively” he said.

Weiss Elementary’s next PBL showcase is scheduled for Nov. 20 at 8 a.m. as part of the school’s monthly parent breakfast.

Click here to see a video of the recent PBL showcase.

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