Project Based Learning
Design thinking and the development of individual projects helps students to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Project based learning gives students hands-on opportunities to investigate and respond to a real, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.
Project Based Learning (PBL) is an effective and enjoyable way to learn - and to develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career, and civic life. Each project engages their hearts and minds and provides real-world relevance for learning. Students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively. Students learn by doing which plays a crucial part in retention and ability to apply what's learned to new situations. Experiential learning enables the learning to be personalized and differentiated.
Upper School students in grades 5-8 create and execute experiential projects as part of the regular school curriculum. Students are presented with a trimester-long theme. Students work individually or in small groups, building a portfolio utilizing print, on-line, and New York City resources. Each project theme culminates in an exhibition day where students showcase and present their work.
2018-2019 PBL topics
Project explores the history of immigration and includes trips to Tenement Museum, Ellis Island, walking tour of Lower East Side and ethnic neighborhoods.
Engineering and Design
Project examines architectural aspects of New York, with trips to bridges and buildings accompanied by an architectural engineer.
Urban Green Spaces
Project studies planning, development and support for urban green spaces, with visits to Central Park, Highline, Urban Garden Center, Brooklyn Grange and building of a rooftop garden.
Project investigates conservation of natural resources and environmental protection, including visits to water treatment plant, recycling center, Jerome Park Reservoir, High Bridge, Baisley Pond and Plumb Beach.
Music History of New York
Project researches the history of music in the City, including visits to the Apollo Theater, recording studio and music theory taught by local musicians.
Sample PBL Project: Immigration
Question: What was or is it like for a child my own age to immigrate to the United States?
History: What was/is the country of origin like? Why would people choose to leave? What obstacles exist in the US?
ELA: What is the child like? His/Her family, personality, looks, hopes and dreams?
Math: What is the distance? How long is the trip? What mode of travel?
Science: What nutrition will the child need or possible medical attention? How does a trip like this affect the body?
With project based learning, students choose the questions and add to them as their knowledge grows. The presentation is individually based. In ELA a student could write a journal or letters from the perspective of the immigrant. For Math a student could build a diagram that shows the route and distances. In Science the student could bring in foods or pack an imaginary suitcase.