Recently, The Academy at Compass Rose has transitioned to the Project Based Learning model of instruction. Project Based Learning (PBL) is different from the traditional projects you may think of when reflecting back on your own school experience. According to the Buck Institute for Education, Project Based Learning is made up of seven key components: 

1) a challenging problem or question
2) sustained inquiry
3) authenticity
4) student voice and choice
5) reflection
6) critique and revision and
7) public product

With PBL, students investigate topics that have a real world application, therefore increasing student engagement throughout the process. PBL aids in helping students to think critically, work collaboratively, and present effectively to an audience. Katherine Kelly, Academic Director, sat down with Tristin, a current 11th grade student, to ask her some questions about her experience with PBL.

What is different about PBL than traditional methods of learning? 

“A lot of PBL is more collaborative group work than being independent on your own. I enjoy group work because it gives me less anxiety because you’re working with people that can answer your questions instead of constantly needing to talk to the teacher.  It utilizes more real life components that I will actually use.” 

Can you tell me about a specific project you’re working on that deepened your understanding of a specific topic? 

“For one project, we had to choose between two cars we wanted to purchase within certain parameters. We looked at how much gas would cost over a year, got insurance quotes, calculated how much we needed for a down payment, etc.” 

How do you think PBL will help you after high school? What skills have you improved since The Academy’s implementation of the PBL model? 

“I will know how to purchase a truck and the planning process. In addition, my communication skills have improved as well as presentation skills. The presentations are similar to if you were presenting to your boss. I have learned how to better collaborate with others.” 

In addition, our Child Development class recently completed a project where the students studied the impact of prenatal health on the mother and the child. The students designed menus with healthy eating options for an expectant mother and came up with a weekly plan for moderate exercise and self-care ideas. As a culminating activity, the students then presented their ideas to an expectant mother. Students had the ability to present to a meaningful, authentic audience that was truly invested in their suggestions and ideas. 

In conclusion, students and staff at The Academy have enjoyed navigating the transition to this new methodology of teaching and learning. We have seen a much higher level of engagement among students and look forward to this model of instruction transforming how students learn in our school community. 

-By Katherine Kelly, Academic Director