Students need to be in class to learn. When we implemented project based learning (PBL) in 2012, the suspension rate took a dramatic drop. The same students who were suspended the year prior were now in class and engaged, challenged and supported. As the years have passed that number has stayed low, but our engagement data continues to climb.
Projects are designed with the students in mind. Our students are being challenged to think, solve real world problems, and work together. This happens all the way down to first grade. When our first grade teachers heard that our zip code had the highest rate of Chihuahua abandonments in the County, they designed a project for the students. First graders researched the problem and created apublic service announcement for the Humane Society to increase awareness and offer strategies to help. Working with a real problem and doing meaningful work increases the engagement in learning.
And it makes learning fun.
This blog is a ten-day series by Aaron Brengard, Principal ofKatherine Smith Elementary School in San Jose, Ca as part of the New Tech Network Back-to-School series. Katherine Smith School is a public, neighborhood New Tech elementary school in the Evergreen School District in San Jose, CA.