Project-Based Learning Drives Powerful Learning at WSES

By James Koontz
November 23, 2021

This week at WSES, 6th graders showed off their marketing materials for travelling the solar system, 4th graders shared interactive museum exhibits, and 3rd graders presented ebooks teaching geography. What do all of these things have in common? They are examples of the project-based learning (PBL) happening across the school in every grade level this year.

What is PBL? During a PBL opportunity, students work on a project over an extended period of time that requires them to solve a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have gained by creating a product or presentation for a real audience. Through PBL, students develop content knowledge as well as important Portrait of a Graduate skills in critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.

In FCPS, PBL follows a four-step process. 

  1. Teachers craft an entry event designed to engage and create curiosity among students about the topic. It also introduced the driving question that will be used to initiate the inquiry process and provide an open-ended challenge to students to create a final product. Students themselves determine what they need to know in order to tackle the challenge presented by the driving question.
  2. Students learn the content through a process of inquiry and innovation. Students themselves take ownership of their learning and are typically given choices in how they learn, who they learn with, and/or how they demonstrate their learning.
  3. Students work through an ongoing process of reflecting on their work and revising and refining it.
  4. Students share their work with an audience.

PBL instructional approaches allow students to engage more deeply and meaningfully with content, which promotes learning that is deep and long-lasting, and help builds a love of learning and sense of personal connection.

To learn more about PBL in action at WSES, please contact a member of our PBL Support Team- Maggie Gawen, Advanced Academics Resource Teacher; James Koontz, School-Based Technology Specialist; or Amy Stevenson, Librarian.