Project Learning: Model Schools with Solutions

Project learning encourages students to explore real-world challenges while developing cross-curriculum skills in small collaborative groups. Edutopia has visited many schools that have implemented project-based learning programs -- here are some of the best examples across the country. Dig in and get ideas for how you can implement changes in your school today.

GRADE LEVEL: HIGH SCHOOL

High Tech High

San Diego, California
Students at the textbook-free school tackle projects like building a fish pen and helping local wildlife-protection officials fight poaching.

Vergennes Union High School

Vergennes, Vermont
In the muddy Vermont woods, a former farmland serves as classroom for students who spend part of every week outdoors through the fall, bitter winter, and spring.

Aviation High School

Seattle, Washington
Aviation and aerospace are the focus of design projects at this engineering-based program.

West Hawaii Explorations Academy

Big Island, Hawaii
Students learn about marine science by restoring ancient, sediment-choked ponds.

New Technology High School

Napa, California
A PBL school since its launch in 1996, New Tech teachers build their instruction around eight Learning Outcomes -- content standards, collaboration, critical thinking, oral communication, written communication, career preparation, citizenship and ethics, and technology literacy.

GRADE LEVEL: MIDDLE SCHOOL

King Middle School

Portland, Maine
Besides incorporating such subjects as art, science, and language arts, the projects include well-considered use of computer technology, which has been enhanced by the decision of the state to provide all Maine seventh and eighth graders with iBook laptop computers. They have also adopted the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound model of personalized, project-based learning.

Martin Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School

Raleigh, North Carolina
Middle school students follow a climber's journey up Mount Everest via satellite Internet while they engage in related activities in the classroom.

GRADE LEVEL: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Ferryway School

Malden, Massachusetts
Fifth-grade students learn how to build an efficient waterwheel.

Waterville Elementary School

Waterville, Washington
Fourth-grade students dig around outdoors to learn about animal habitats through the nationwide NatureMapping program.

Auburn Early Education Center

Auburn, Alabama
Students decide what projects to tackle -- whether it's building an airplane, a cruise ship or conducting a funeral for the class praying mantis.

GRADE LEVEL: K-12

Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township

Indianapolis, Indiana
Kids invent their own projects by conducting research with computers, raising funds for classroom tools, and involving themselves in community initiatives.

Little Shop of Physics

Fort Collins, Colorado
A Colorado State University program takes fun and fizzy physics demonstrations -- like generating heat and cold and creating fog -- to K-12 classrooms across the district.

This article originally published on 1/27/2010

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Project Foundry Guru

Missing the 'Coolest School in America'

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Disappointing that the Great Lakes/midwest is sorely under represented in this list, considering the tremendous number of pioneering PBL schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan that have been PBL way before many of the school listed here.

One of which, is Minnesota New Country School (Henderson, MN - http://www.newcountryschool.com/) has been around longer than most of these and was recognized as the 'Coolest school in America'.

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