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June 11, 2015

3 min

Method Schools Team

How Project-Based High School Can Benefit Your Teenager

Unless you're Hermione Granger, there were probably subjects in school that you just didn't enjoy. You know the ones. You probably spent the entire class period sitting there with your head propped up on one hand, wishing that the teacher would stop lecturing already so that you could do something more interesting. Anything more interesting. If you don't remember these subjects, ask your teenager: they still exist, and unfortunately, with the focus on state testing that has taken over most schools in the last generation, kids are seeing it more than ever before.

project-based high school doesn't do away with the subjects that kids hate, but it does get them engaged, involved, and more responsible for their own learning than ever before. At a project-based high school, kids will:

Work intensively on a long-term question. Students aren't expected to memorize names and dates, repeating the information that they learned in history class by rote. Instead, they're given the opportunity to dig deeper into a period of history, answering big-picture questions about who famous historical figures really were, what they did, and what contributions they made to the modern world. In literature, they can examine the works that really interest them, going through material that is genuinely interesting to each student instead of being forced to work only within the confines of material chosen by the curriculum.

Ask questions. Asking questions is one of the most vital parts of learning, and one that is unfortunately overlooked in many schools. Teenagers in particular need to be taught not only how to ask questions, but how to seek out the answers. Project-based learning allows students to develop their ability to both ask and answer relevant questions instead of becoming bogged down by details and learning how to answer test questions. Open-ended, big-picture questions are the ones that lead students into their own fields of study and teach them more about the world than simply the "correct" answer.

Choose how they will complete their projects. Obviously, students will be guided through this process so that they will ultimately display their projects in an appropriate manner, but they will have the freedom to explore the medium that they consider to be the most interesting or effective, develop their own methods of time management, and be responsible for their own created project. This isn't cookie cutter learning; it's learning that allows each student to create individuality in the learning process so that they can own their education as never before.

Learn how to revise their projects based on outside input (and how to offer that input to others). For many students in traditional high schools, once a project is completed, it's simply done. Once they've received a grade, many students will never even look at the project again. Project-based learning incorporates feedback from teachers and peers, which helps students learn how to take constructive criticism and incorporate it into their final projects. The process also teaches students how to look critically at a project and locate the areas in which it can be improved, a valuable life skill that will improve the quality of their own future projects.

Develop life skills relevant to today's society, not archaic skills that they'll never use again outside of school. Have you ever walked into a high school computer lab that looks like it came out of the stone age? Wondered why students were standing in front of the room with posters constructed out of cardboard when a technology-based presentation would have been much more effective? Project-based learning allows students to use modern technology to its best advantage, teaching them how to work with tools that they'll use long after they graduate from high school.

Ultimately, project-based learning places the learning process back in the hands of the individual student. While it's certainly not for everyone, it can add a valuable educational advantage to those students who are willing to take the leap and explore a unique style of learning. Project-based learning encourages students to work at their own pace, to learn more about the world around them, and to dig deeper into the things that they find truly interesting--which, at the end of the day, is what education should be all about.

Learn More About Project Based Learning at Method

5 Differences Between Charter and Public Schools

7 Differences Between Charter and Private Schools

Education 101: What is a Public Charter School?

The Progressive Movement: An Enduring Inspiration in Public Education

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