What is Project Based Learning at Wired2Learn Academy?
When I tell others about a project-based learning environment, they get excited. They initiatively know that this type of learning environment is exciting and offers students freedom in their learning. Understanding how this learning environment will give students all that they need to be successful as an adult is more complicated. The inevitable questions come up about how to ensure that students learn calculus, physics, grammar, or history. These are difficult questions to reconcile in education where the focus is on keeping the status quo. Every education model has its own challenges. In a project-based model, one must be open to new problems, new discussions, a new paradigm in how best to teach and learn.
Taking part in meaningful, creative projects requires student engagement and autonomy, 21st century skills, creating a collaborative environment, ensuring feedback and critique, and sharing it with a meaningful audience. Projects do not happen overnight. There are hours of research, collaboration and thought put into projects. The best projects hit all those factors.
We are excited to help students implement their own, student-driven projects. We know we will hit obstacles and will have to rectify mistakes along the way. Our learning coaches’ goal will be to help students meet State-learning standards within their projects. Once a project is completed, students will start another and continuously cycle through projects. It will feel messy. Students might design a clothing company, build a water purification system, invent a new refrigeration unit, survive a zombie apocalypse or study rap art.
We will face problems: duration of projects, student accountability, logistics of every student at a different point of a different project, student engagement when solving a difficult problem, and stalled projects. But, like any reflective work environment, we at W2LA will seek new solutions, discard the things that don’t work and extract the elements that do work.
Our students and learning coaches will enjoy building, designing, collaborating and critiquing in a project-based model. While we will strive to have advanced technology, we will embrace being off technology. Communicating with one another, problem solving and building relationships will be foundational. We will teach technology as an outstanding TOOL and learn technology responsibility. We will learn how technology breaks are imperative to brain development, problem solving and brainstorming.
We believe that in combining the hands-on, critical thinking practices that project-based learning brings, with the rigor of meeting the State standards, we will create a dynamic learning program where all students are engaged, having fun, and most importantly, learning to the best of their abilities and passions.