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June 2, 2015

2 min

Dr. Jessica Spallino

The Continued Quest for Differentiation: Blending Independent Study with Project Based Learning

As previously discussed, there is a growing number of charter schools in California. As educational options continue to multiply, the K-12 school market has become highly competitive, even amongst traditional school districts. Charter schools and traditional schools are forced to improve their programs as families have more options to choose from than ever before.

At Method Schools we have previously described the data-driven portion of our program that we feel differentiates ourselves. In alignment to a competency based model, we have found this approach to not only be effective in ensuring students are mastering critical elements of their grade level content, but we feel it also helps us stand out amongst the many charter school options who do not use such practices.

Another valuable component of our program that we feel further differentiates ourselves is a blend of project based learning with independent study. Method Schools is classified as an independent study program so we are able to offer the flexibility of working on site or at home in the online curriculum provided. Along with that flexibility we have created content driven projects that supplement the curriculum. The key elements of project based learning as identified by the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) are as follows:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom when possible.

At Method Schools, we rely on these key elements and best practices of project based learning and independent study learning to create an educational model that not only differentiates ourselves, but offers a flexible and student driven model that allows for hands-on application of critical concepts and opportunities to collaborate with fellow students on-site or virtually. The opportunity for collaboration and hands-on extensions of the curriculum content makes for a unique blend of individualized and collaborative learning that we feel ultimately serves students most effectively along with differentiating ourselves among the many charter school options.

Learn More About 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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