Summer 2021: Project Based Learning
Investigating the past to imagine the future.
Imagining the future by investigating the past.
Students in both of the middle school enrichment programs this summer engaged in Project-Based Learning to explore and investigate questions and problems that connect them to the outside world. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an inquiry-based learning methodology that places students in the drivers’ seats of their learning and connects academics to the outside world of careers and college. In each of the Middle School Summer Enrichment Academies, students addressed a driving real world question or compelling problem that launched through their investigations and explorations. They engaged in collaboration, discussion, research, interviews, and creating unique projects that provided a solution or answer to their inquiries. This summer, we had 12 classrooms of students in person learning with a teacher. There were many cross-collaborations and all students were provided a chrome book, mouse and instructional technology programs. Some of the IT programs used included Minecraft Education, The Microsoft Suite of applications (Word, PowerPoint, Sway), Book Creator, and Nearpod.
The students in the Humanities Academy - The Yonkers History Project - looked at different aspects and perspectives of Yonkers history, including how their lives were affected by the pandemic, what are its landmarks, and how have the schools and buildings transitioned over time. Classes also studied those in the city who have made a different.
The students of the Engineering Academy - Minecraft Education - explored the history of space flight and exploration and studied the International Space Station as a place of global cooperation and experimentation. These students looked at how space exploration could solve some of today's problems and developed their own International Space Stations designed to solve a problem of today through their driving question: "How can space exploration help solve a current problem on Earth?"
Both academies conducted their investigations through the prism of time. Humanities students investigated the past to imagine the future. Engineering students imagined the future by investigating the past. Both academies took place during the month of July. Some highlights of what our students have discovered over this month of learning are shared in class recordings in this section of the Yonkers Public Schools Rethink Website, Model Curriculum.
We know that inquiry-based approaches, such as Project-Based Learning, allow for greater student voice and choice and connect academics to the outside world. This was affirmed in our learning community, again, this summer. Together, we are rethinking teaching and learning to increase student voice and choice; leading to greater equity.