Project-Based Learning: Session Recap

Ken Lockette, Principal of Avonworth High School, joined leaders and educators of the Spark network today at The Sprout Fund offices for a Lunch & Learn focused on project-based learning.

In case you missed the Lunch & Learn this afternoon, check out a brief recap of the event!

Ken Lockette, Principal of Avonworth High School, joined leaders and educators of the Spark network today at The Sprout Fund offices for a Lunch & Learn focused on project-based learning (PBL). His experience at Avonworth has given him insight into the effects of PBL, and positions him to make suggestions for other school districts looking to implement this tactic.

Ken pointed out key differences between tradition learning and 21st century learning in his presentation–explaining how students are now “digital natives” and that education should take advantage of this characteristic and focus on creativity, collaboration, technology, and critical-thinking.

PBL is a constructional approach to education that is focused on interdisciplinary projects. As Ken put it, it’s the idea of putting the project as the main course–not just the dessert! PBL education can be time intensive, as it takes a lot of planning to coordinate a project that fits the interests of the student, the curriculum of the school district, and that will yield substantial educational development. It all starts with a driving question–something provocative, open ended, and challenging yet reasonable, then moves on to planning the assessment, mapping out the project, managing the process, and then sharing the deliverables to outside audiences.

Avonworth implements PBL in several of their classes including environmental science, anatomy and physiology, English and social studies, and physics and engineering. This variety allows many students to get involved in what interests them. Ken said, “You’ve got to break down the barriers of compartmentalized structure in high schools”. By doing this, a new level of learning can be achieved.

According to Ken, Avonworth is currently developing interdisciplinary career academies, and he expects to see great results from the change. Also, the school district will continue to establish partnerships with organizations and businesses in order to facilitate real-world experiences–a great way to blend formal and informal learning!

Ken pointed out that it takes time for these changes to occur in a school system. Tradition and complacency are only two of the obstacles that educators need to hurdle in order to implement PBL–it’s not always an easy transition, in fact, it usually is not.  His experience at Avonworth High School are a testament to what the dedication of a group of educators and leaders can accomplish.

For more information on PBL, Ken Lockette suggests visiting Buck Institute of Education, as they’re one of the leading organizations advocating for this type of 21st century learning model.

 


Published July 09, 2012