Project-based learning unit focuses on real life problems

By Joy Washington, Library/Media Specialist


KING WILLIAM – Students at Cool Spring Primary returned to school and teachers immediately posed to them a problem. What is your ideal school? What would it look like, feel like, smell like, taste like, and sound like? Each student at each grade level was given the challenge of finding ways to make Cool Spring their ideal school. Kindergarten focused on their classrooms, first grade examined the hallway behaviors, and second graders tackled the cafeteria.

Students began by making observations and identifying areas they wanted to improve. They then worked cooperatively and collaborated with peers to come up with solutions to solve their problems. To make the task a little less daunting each grade level focused on a different area of the school. The next step was to communicate their ideas to peers, teachers, and administrators to determine which ideas would be pursued. After the ideas were chosen students from second and first grade communicated their ideas with the entire school at an assembly.

Project-based learning focuses on solving real-life problems and is student-driven. The teacher serves as a guide and facilitator, while the students lead the direction of the projects. These projects encourage students to use 21st century skills, much like they will be expected to use in the real world as adults: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. This new instructional design challenges teachers and students to think in a different way and extend their learning beyond the classroom walls and across multiple content areas.

Starting in November when you visit Cool Spring, you may see many inventive ideas that stem from the young brains at Cool Spring Primary including: student monitors, hallway decorations, a "warning cup" and a "loud cup" in the cafeteria, and many other creative ideas.