To the Editor:
It seems like every time you read an article regarding education there is talk of standardized high-stakes testing. Teachers spend hours planning and prepping lessons that ensure their students will select the correct question on a lengthy multiple choice test. Students regurgitate this information one day late in the spring, when the only thing anyone can focus on is the looming summer months. When you think about what we want our students to be able to do when they exit high school, is being really good at test taking the first thing that comes to mind?
The end goal does not seem to fit the means by which schools are aiming to obtain success. This has left many educators, researchers, and parents wondering, is there a better way to teach our children? One school in Fairfax County is attempting to step outside the box and
implement a Project-Based Learning (PBL) model in a few of their classrooms. PBL was developed by the Buck Institute for Education in Novato, Calif., though many of the inquiry based methods can be traced back to education pioneer John Dewey. Through PBL students are highly engaged in problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking activities. Teachers must carefully select which cross-curricular
standards they want a project to cover. Then, they introduce students to their problem and propose a driving question. Students research collaboratively online and with print resources. They create a final product that demonstrates their newly gained learning to their community. Finally, students reflect on their learning and performance.
Research has shown that students who learn through PBL perform at the same level, if not higher than students in a traditional classroom. In addition, they make gains in 21st Century Skills. PBL provides students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning, demonstrate higher order thinking skills, and communicate respectfully with their peers.
This is what we are looking for in our high school grads. Maybe PBL will be the ticket to get us there.