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The main educational approach of Pinellas Primary Academy is Project Based Learning. Students will be actively engaged in various projects and educational pursuits, while at the same time learning the essential components as outlined in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
Project Based Learning has been around for many years. The ideas of experiential learning were advocated by William Kilpatrick as early as 1918 and John Dewey in 1938. While it has been discussed for years, it is still not regularly or systematically applied in traditional public schools. We do not believe in trying to teach specific subject areas in isolation of others, instead we choose to teach the content through an integrated approach that incorporates many aspects into a single project.
Possibly the most extensive definition of Project Based Learning is that presented by the Buck Institute for Education which focused on Project Based Learning for the 21st century. Their model, borrowed from their website (http://www.bie.org/about/what_is_pbl) is as follows:
Rigorous and in-depth Project Based Learning:
- is organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge. These focus students’ work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues, debates, questions and/or problems.
- creates a need to know essential content and skills. Typical projects (and most instruction) begin by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then, once learned, give them the opportunity to apply them. PBL begins with the vision of an end product or presentation which requires learning specific knowledge and concepts, thus creating a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts.
- requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new. Not all learning has to be based on inquiry, but some should. And this inquiry should lead students to construct something new – an idea, an interpretation, a new way of displaying what they have learned.
- requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. Students need to do much more than remember information—they need to use higher-order thinking skills. They also have to learn to work as a team and contribute to a group effort. They must listen to others and make their own ideas clear when speaking, be able to read a variety of material, write or otherwise express themselves in various modes, and make effective presentations. These skills, competencies and habits of mind are often known as "21st Century Skills".
- allows some degree of student voice and choice. Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices. The opportunity to make choices, and to express their learning in their own voice, also helps to increase students’ educational engagement.
- incorporates feedback and revision. Students use peer critique to improve their work to create higher quality products.
- results in a publicly presented product or performance. What you know is demonstrated by what you do, and what you do must be open to public scrutiny and critique.
If we are serious about reaching 21st Century educational goals, PBL must be at the center of 21st Century instruction. The project contains and frames the curriculum, which differs from the short "project" or activity added onto traditional instruction. PBL is, "The Main Course, not Dessert."
To learn more about the process used to develop lessons, visit our educational process page.