Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning

ropes courseProject Based Learning

Learning Through Engagement and Challenge

For many years, the traditional “3 Rs” of learning – “Reading, Writing & ‘Rithmatic” – have been the basis of a solid education. But there’s another way of learning that’s been making its way steadily into school curriculums across the country, and it’s based on identifying and solving specific challenges by working with and within the community in a hands-on kind of way to solve them.

“I call it learning through engagement and challenge,” said Caty Sutton, Director of Randolph Union High School’s Project Based Learning Lab, now entering its fourth year. “It’s an inquiry-based approach to education that complements in-class learning by helping students experience first hand what they’re studying in class or reading in a book.”

This year, the PBL lab will be working on six different challenges, each led by a teacher who serves as the students’ facilitator. Students sign up for a project that interests them and then discuss with the teacher what the outcomes of the project could or should be. In that way, the project is essentially student led. And part of what’s unique about having students lead the course is that they come to realize that the outcomes toward which they’re working are often fluid and subject to change. Part of the students’ PBL learning experience is adjusting to those changes without losing sight of the intended outcome – or – re-assessing their intended outcome based on what’s changed.”

“In life,” Sutton said. “We make our plans, and then something happens that throws the whole thing off course. How well we succeed in life often depends on how well we adjust to unexpected changes, and how open we are to going in new directions.”

Read more about the Project Based Learning initiatives for the 2017-18 academic year by clicking on any of the initiatives below. Or, learn more about what's going on by reading the most recent update below.


PBL Update - December 2017:

The Youth Media course spent the first few months of the year familiarizing themselves with the technology necessary to tackle local, hard-hitting issues such as the opiate crisis and the movement toward proficiency-based grading. They will be working with community-based expert Jackie Batten from WGDR, with potential to then tour VPR and work with Jane Lindholm to fine tune their pieces.

The Interact PBL has already hosted several blood drives with the American Red Cross and is currently furthering their goals of fundraising for Hands in Outreach, their Kiva microlending account, and Camp Ta Kum Ta (they will also take part in this week’s Santa Run in Burlington!).

The Digital Music Performance offering has been working with the latest digital composition software to create original work that will be featured in a launch party at WGDR in the spring. This music will also be used throughout the year to complement public local and school events.

The Restorative Justice course has been gaining relevant skills in mediation and circle training in order to help to resolve school conflicts while gaining content knowledge in the criminal justice system. They are also working with the local Restorative Justice Committee to observe and learn from their processes.

The Randolph Area Narrative Documentary (R.A.N.D.) film class is currently gaining the interview skills they will need to engage in interviews with local school and community members to feature in their documentary films. They will explore topics that they are passionate about and capture and edit footage to produce a finished product to share at a showcase in the spring.

Finally, the Service Learning Abroad project-based learning class is fundraising and preparing for their service learning trip to Nicaragua in April. They have been working with local non-profit organization Planting Hope to visit Nicaraguan schools and stay with host families to share resources with the local community.