At City Neighbors High School, we use a project-based learning approach to motivate students to challenge themselves to explore real world problems and develop problem-solving skills. Projects are often cross-disciplinary and are designed so that students have the opportunity to present their work and display their learning for authentic audiences. We begin with the students in mind to frame questions about issues that are important to them. For example, in 9th grade American History, students began with the question "Who deserves a monument?" and researched significant figures in the history of Baltimore, constructing an argument about a person they selected as deserving of a monument, and designing and creating a sculpture prototype to memorialize that person.
In Biology class, students learned about the pros and cons of GMOs through information provided by guest speakers from organizations such as Food and Water Watch and Real Food Farms and created public service announcement videos, incorporating the information they learned. Research shows that students who participate in project-based learning demonstrate greater self-confidence, collaboration and leadership skills; in addition, they tend to retain the knowledge gained and make deeper connections to previous learning.
Project based learning is a different type of learning, aside from textbook and tests. City Neighbors gives students the opportunity to do projects that relate to the real world. For instance making a budget presentation to help them see what the real world could be like. As a student at this school, I think project based learning is a great thing! Not only does it prepare the students for the real world, it also keeps us students engaged. Most students get tired of the constant tests and textbook work, so having a hands on project lets us students enjoy learning more.
The past 4 years at this school have been amazing, I am excited about graduating this year. I would personally suggest this school to any student because it is a completely different experience. The teachers care about all of the students and help them out when in need of help. These projects have prepared me for the real world, showing me what I could potentially be facing. The most important thing this school has prepared me for is the groups, when working on group projects I really got to see the different kinds of people who work and how I must deal with the situation. The project that I will remember most is a project called the Atom Timeline. This project was done in Chemistry class, and what I had to do was work in a group of about 4 or 5, and we each got assigned a specific scientist who had to do with the discovery of atoms. I was assigned Erwin Schrödinger who had invented Quantum Mechanics, the Schödingers Cat Theory, and found a flaw in Bohr’s model of an atom. The reason I will remember this project is because of how interesting it was to me, and how the teacher had set it up. It began as an individual project writing papers about the scientist, then had moved to a group project putting together a timeline. This project gave traditional work, writing an essay, and also fun group project work which is what all schools need.
Project Based Learning, at core, is guided by the idea that students and teachers participate in a long-term in-depth study of a compelling topic. Project-Based Learning at City Neighbors High School has three primary components:
1. The development of a compelling topic.
2. In-depth prolonged research using a multitude of sources (including primary sources and field work).
3. The development of a well-crafted product that synthesizes and presents learning about the topic.
Through Project-Based Learning, students develop deeply as critical thinkers, researchers, and presenters, while learning all the requisite skills in the pursuit of their project study.