Project-based learning done right

With traditional learning, students memorize information for upcoming tests and don’t retain what is learned, said John Larmer, editor-in-chief of the Buck Institute for Education, a nonprofit that helps teachers use project-based learning.

When students focus on projects, the learning “really sinks in” and it becomes easier to transfer their knowledge to new situations, Larmer said. Eight teachers from grades K-3 at Parkside participate in The Compass. Students often work together and collaborate on projects.

Project-based learning emphasizes 21st century skills such as the ability to think critically, work in teams, and solve problems, Larmer said. Originally, “the school system was designed for the industrial economy. It needed to produce workers for the factory,” he said. But now, in the 21st century, “the United States is in the information age, or knowledge economy, where jobs … are more complicated then they used to be.”

The Compass often partners with community members and organizations for projects. During the program’s first year, which had projects related to the city of Coral Springs, The Compass partnered with a city historian who led the students on a bus ride tour around town, Schulson said.

This year, learning expanded to regions of Florida and ultimately branched out to the United States.

One day, Schulson saw the YouTube music video “Tour the States” and wondered how she could apply it to the classroom. Eventually Schulson and Bitton’s classes created a re-make of the music video.


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