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Project Based Learning

 

Alevy’s Project-Based Learning is Raising the Level of Learning

by: Dr. Megan Carlson

Thanks to Allen Alevy’s generous grant aimed at building the capacity of our teachers and students, we have accomplished a huge shift in the educational atmosphere here at The Hebrew Academy.

The teachers have been working diligently over the past two years to help our students learn how to learn and act responsibly with the scholarship they gain. We desire for them to be captains of their learning, seizing every opportunity to steer into interesting and challenging scholarship. As Arnold Bennett says, “Any change, even a change for the better is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” We have seen this as our students move from static to dynamic learners. Instead of just sitting in class and having facts and dates poured into their minds, students must now work together (sometimes with very different personalities than themselves), gather data responsibly, analyze the information meet deadlines and communicate their findings expertly. Therefore, the skills being taught to the students are very different than previously needed in schools. Students must now learn and integrate interpersonal skills, thinking skills, analytic abilities and stellar communication in order to best learn and communicate with others. The shift is beyond exciting and real, even with our growing pains related to this great change.

The collaboration and projects that the teachers have been developing and implementing have been addressing our need to help students develop their learning and thinking abilities. The teachers expertly address the California and Common Core standards in a way that is motivating and indicative of dynamic learning. Therefore, when parents ask, “Will my child be prepared to move on from The Hebrew Academy? Will he/she be competitive with his/her peers in other schools?”  the answer is a resounding yes. Our students’ abilities and preparation far exceed that of their peers in public schools and directly compete with those in other private/independent schools. Our test scores and students’ capabilities prove this point.

Where I hope to further delve, is into the realm of cooperation and respect among the students themselves, and a resulting atmosphere of gratitude for the learning that is occurring at school. We are currently examining ways in which we can involve students in the responsibility for a higher level of respectful and grateful behavior. I will keep you posted as to what activities we implement.

In the meantime, our 8th graders are involved in an amazing Earthquake study… perhaps it’s their fault we had a test earthquake recently… haha. Seriously, if anyone has any access to professionals who deal with earthquakes, disaster preparedness or the like, please contact Dr. Carlson at mcarlson@hacds.org. We continue to look for high-caliber, enticing learning opportunities for our students. Our path away from boring, static learning to more dynamic and student-centered study is one that is collaborative and needs everyone’s participation! 

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