Project Learning in Portland, Maine
In today’s School Spotlight, State of the Re:Union shares a video showing the great progress and success of Edutopia‘s hands-on learning technique being used by one now-thriving school in Portland, Maine. (To view original web page, click here. To watch Edutopia’s video, view below.)
King Middle School paint a challenging picture: 54 percent of the student population receiving free or reduced lunches, around 25 different languages among its students, and a limited English language proficiency of 26 percent. However, these students are testing above every district and state average levels in every curriculum area at every grade level.
Ask what the secret to their success is, they will say it is because they follow a curriculum design of “expeditionary learning, integrated studies and 1-to-1 laptops.” In other words, the students and staff of King Middle learn about real experiences through the process of doing them. They learn about the ups and downs and interaction between others and necessary relationships that it takes to make something work in the real world — their world.
A group of teachers customize project models with an intended goal and finish date in mind for students that incorporate the use of science, math, media graphics, social studies, the arts, and many other subjects. Just like in the real world, these students must complete their tasks within an allotted time frame. (An eight to 12 week time frame.)
To help students, community members who are professionals in these fields are brought in to assist through guidance and answer questions. This helps students understand the necessity in forming relationships and help forge important communication skills.
Once students are ready to present their finished products, the community attends the “Culminating Event” where they engage with students who are there to explain the completed project and how the results were achieved. The students display not only their projects, but developed skills of “creativity, cooperation, and problem solving” — all which are invaluable tools they can and will use throughout their lives.
This hands-on approach is helping the children and teachers, and what is more impressive is that students are learning to use critical thinking skills. Getting students (and teachers in many cases) engaged can be a daunting task, but King Middle has found a formula that is working for their students, teachers, families and community.
Know of a school who is using a different learning system to engage students, teachers and community? Use the box below to tell us what they are doing and how it is working for them.