Project Based Learning in Action
The Importance of Investing in our Students
Since September 2012, teaching staff and administration have been on a collaborative journey to recreate the learning experience for our students through Project Based Learning (PBL). It has not come without its set of challenges, but it has been an incredible time of discovery and rejuvenation at HDCH.
Project Based Learning is using driving questions to contextualize learning in projects that serve a real cultural purpose. As students learn what they need to know in order to create excellent products for a real purpose, they not only deepen their head knowledge, but also create habits of learning that can help them be lifelong learners.” Justin Cook
Project-Based Learning is particularly compatible with HDCH’s Christ-centred philosophy of education because “the discovery mode of learning takes students beyond a mainly propositional understanding to a more experiential knowledge of God’s revelation in every sphere of creation, including an uncovering of their own unique gifts and God’s call in those gifts,” says Duncan Todd, Vice-principal at HDCH. “It also dovetails perfectly with restorative practices, and it harmonises with the ‘life of service’ focus of our mission since student projects and products are geared towards something of service to the wider community.”
On November 30, 2012, there was a buzz in the air as students from different classes and subject areas prepared to present the projects they had been working towards all semester. It was wonderful to see so many students exhibiting their work, talking about it, answering questions and also taking a real interest in other students’ work in different grades and courses.
“Most of the students learned a lot, not just about their work, but also about themselves on that day. Many of them expressed surprise at what a worthwhile day it proved to be for them.” Duncan Todd
The Grade 10 English project was of particular interest that day. The project asked students to think about ‘who the heroes were in their community,’ and ‘how to share and tell their stories.’
“You could present your project however you wanted and it was neat to see the differences,” said Hannah Verrips, a Grade 10 student in Mr. Cook’s English class at HDCH.
Hannah described her English project as being “about someone who had a major impact on [her] life and whose story deserved to be told. Having the opportunity to do a project on my grandma created a deep personal and emotional connection. It was good because I found out a lot more about my grandma than I had known before. Doing the project definitely improved our relationship.”
Investing in our students will lead to a learning relationship that blesses all generations and community participants, as both presenters and audience members.