I was recently given the great opportunity to visit two different project based schools, one for elementary education as well as a high school project school. The differences at these schools kept me in awe throughout the day from the extreme differences from when I was in high school.
The first thing that caught my eye in the school was the openness and the freedom that students have in the classroom. In both the elementary and the high school levels, children were allowed to get up from their seats, move about the classroom, and choose what they wanted to work on for portions of the day. The high school has no bell schedules as well as all glass classrooms, with most having no doors, open for everyone to see.
I really enjoyed how the schools allowed people to freely come in classrooms and talk to students and teachers about their experiences and projects they were working on. I walked into kindergarten classrooms where students fully articulated how they were creating a cook book and what portion they were working on, in full, complete sentences with much confidence.
I believed this experience really connected with the CEL program and W310 class because the classroom was built around the students instead of the other way around. Each student was paired with one to one laptops, each given their own device so they always have the resources they need to research or work on problems. Students are asked to work in lots of group work as well as move around to different mediums from laptops, to worksheets, to collaborations. In addition, teachers are more of the guide on the side, instead of the sage on the stage.
Below is a video from the high school I visited and how their school is run.
The main concerns I still have about project schools is the connection with SAT/ACT scores and how much of an impact with standardized tests still have influence in those classrooms. How do private project schools that are not required to perform with these tests compared to the Project Magnet schools?