- Harmony Middle School
We are a PBL Design School
RE: from the Department of Instruction / James Dallas / Director of Teaching and Learning for LCPS:
“Good Afternoon, Thank you for submitting an application to be a (PBL Design School). We have reviewed your application and we are pleased to let you know that your school has been selected to be a (PBL Design School) Wall-to-Wall PBL School! The learning journey upon which you are about to embark will broaden and deepen your goal of empowering all students to make meaningful contributions to the world. The Department of Instruction is excited to join you on this journey.”
We will be the only middle school in LCPS doing this!
We are so pleased to share this student made video with you. If you have three minutes, please take some time to view it. It is remarkable and was filmed, narrated, drawn, and edited ALL by one of our students, Miss Alexandra Toporowicz. What a beautiful product that speaks to what kids this age are capable of doing. View Video Here
We will continue our implementation of the Design School concept (also called Wall to Wall Project Based Learning). We have slowly been doing this for the past two years. Project Based Learning (or PBL) is an inquiry-based process for teaching and learning. Some people think it is doing projects all the time. It is NOT. In PBL, teachers start new content by having students focus on a complex question or problem then research and discuss the answer and then seek to solve the problem through authentic experiences.
Students are encouraged to collaborate and communicate with other students in order to make them better at articulating what they are learning. These sometimes culminate in a project but they are better described as experiences that teachers design to help students learn at a deeper level. PBL is extremely effective as a method for engaging students in their learning and has “Eight Essential Elements” or instructional strategies: 1) a challenging problem or question; 2) sustained inquiry; 3) authenticity; 4) student voice and choice; 5) reflection; 6) critique and revision; 7) key knowledge, understanding, and success skills; 8) and a sharing opportunity.
Students and adults can learn things at a surface level or at a deeper level. Surface level learning requires memorizing facts for a test that are often forgotten a few days later. The goal at Harmony is for kids to have deeper learning experiences.
Deeper learning can be explained when using some of the 8 elements to ask about what is happening in our teachers’ classrooms. How is instruction being driven by a Challenging problem or question? What is the teacher doing to stoke curiosity, sustain inquiry, or engage and empower the students? What actions are going on in the room that demonstrates lesson and activity authenticity? What are the students doing that demonstrate voice and choice? What are the kids doing to reflect, revise, and critique their learning?
In designing their lessons to get students to deeper learning experiences, teachers provide students with a chance to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems by using highly empowering and authentic lessons on a daily basis. PBL encourages a shift from a teacher-centric model to a student-centric, learner-driven approach. Along the way, they are continually critiquing, reflecting, redirecting, and revising their question(s) and answer(s). Along the way, they are making deeper connections with the content.
A Student-Designed PBL Math Classroom (VIDEO)
Harmony Middle School has become a Wall to Wall Project Based Learning school. One step the school took was through a project in which students created a new environment for mathematics instruction. This year, the classroom is operational and supporting the development of students as critical thinkers, communicators, collaborators, creators and contributors.
Watch the VIDEO HERE or CLICK BELOW to see it in action!