PROJECT BASED LEARNING
Each trimester, graded classrooms at Peregrine Elementary develop an integrated “theme” which cuts across subject areas. (Kindergarten has shorter, emergent themes.) Often, science and social studies are connected through this theme, although in grades 5-6, the connection is between history and language arts. In the 2017-2018 school year, for example, Chris Erickson’s 5-6 classroom studied Ancient Greece. They learned about Aristotle’s poetics as a guide for writing, and wrote an original Greek tragedy, using his mandates. This play was enacted, and in the process, students made costumes and sets which also reinforce Greek culture. When possible, music and dance specialists were also brought in, to advise the development of a chorus for this production.
PBL can take many forms, but always involves certain steps including 1) student involvement in determining essential inquiries to be pursued, 2) the building of background knowledge (the standards), 3) research about student-driven questions, 4) deciding on an end product such as a play, a book, a museum, or a service learning project, and 5) the creation and communication of this end product to or with a broader audience. PBL projects occupy significant time in the afternoons and on Fridays for Peregrine students. They involve students in prolonged inquiry which include collaborative conversations, questioning, problem-solving, artistic endeavors, reading and writing across subject areas, and more.