Challenging questions, investigative activities, realistic products.
Take a peek inside the classroom...
- 6th Grade Insect Advocates
- Kindergarten Chicks
- 4th Grade Bridge Builders
- 7th Grade Architects
- Upper School Intermezzo
Environmental stewardship on stage
Finding ways to advocate for insects
Where visual arts, science, language arts, and performing arts collideWhat do insects do for us? And, what can we do for them? For this integrated project, students explored democracy in Ancient Greece. They found that one of the ways voting citizens learned about issues facing their community was through theatrical productions, and particularly the Greek Chorus. After discussing the legacy of Greek democracy in our own world, the students began a project to create a Greek Choral presentation educating their community about the importance of protecting insects. To create an authentic chorus, students used new skills from many classes. They wrote the text using grammar phrases in language arts, studied vocalization and moment in musical theatre, researched individual insects in science, and created accurate visual representations of their chosen insects in visual art.
A Realistic End ProductAfter putting all of these elements together to create a fully staged Greek Chorus, the 6th grade took a field trip to Warehouse Performing Arts Center where they performed their work on a stage with real theatre lighting. A recorded version of this production was presented at Presbyterian College as part of the South Carolina Theatre Action for Climate Change Day event.
In integrated learning and teaching, students are able to see the array of applications for the writing and grammar they are learning. Rather than understanding composition as a task from an outside source, they have a personal motivation to learn to communicate clearly ideas and information that is important to them.Mary Beth Schaffner, 6th Grade Language Arts Teacher
A lot of things surprised me about this project. For instance, the crane fly doesn't eat anything at all as an adult. The only time it eats is when it's a larva. I have a new appreciation for insects — even those that only live for two weeks help our environment. Another surprising part of this project happened during filming in the black box theater. The box isn't actually black! It's yellow. I did not take this into account when designing my crane fly puppet. I made the handle black, which means it was visible.Mark C. '24In the Middle School years, project-based learning becomes more interdisciplinary and helps student make connections between subject areas. Interdisciplinary projects are complex tasks, based on challenging questions, that involve students in design, problem-solving, decision making, or investigative activities; give students the opportunity to work relatively autonomously over extended periods of time; and culminate in realistic products or presentations. (Jones, Rasmussen, & Moffitt, 1997; Thomas, Mergendoller, & Michaelson, 1999). Projects at this level are geared toward carefully scaffolded student experiences focusing on hands-on, practical, and relevant work. A high level of collaborative teaching is required to successfully implement project-based learning in grades 5-8.
21 days of ooohhs and ahhhs!
A unique introduction to life cycles, animal care, sustainability and so much more
Chick HatchingChickens are the buzz every spring as the kindergarten class incubates eggs in order to learn first-hand about the life cycle of a chicken. Student scientists care for the eggs, recording temperatures and facts during the 21-day incubation period. There are many discussions about the hatch rate during the incubation period. Students are prepared for the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. If something goes wrong and some of the eggs do not hatch, students must understand what some of the causes could have been. Perhaps the temperature was off by a degree; perhaps there was a power outage, perhaps the lid of the incubator was lifted too often; perhaps the eggs just got shaken too much during shipping. Students explore all of these possibilities in order to fully understand how delicate the incubation process is and the possible outcomes.
A Real-World Experience
Once the chicks hatch, students then observe and care for the chicks in the classroom and outdoor chicken coop for several weeks to further their understanding. Being responsible is a trait that students practice daily as they learn very quickly that the chicks are completely dependent upon the students to provide them care. It is pretty neat to see the chickens following the students around at recess! The chicken project is truly interdisciplinary as students engage in chicken-related activities in math, science, language arts, art, music, and life skills. Student authors share their experiences and new-found knowledge through narrative and expository writing and observational drawings. This interactive experience exemplifies project-based learning at Woodlawn.
The chickens project was my favorite because we got to watch them hatch. Some of them hatched at night so we were surprised when we came in the next day. A few of them didn't make it out of their shell because they weren't strong enough. That's just what happens.Olivia '28Woodlawn bases its project work in grades K-2 on The Project Approach model developed by Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard. The Project Approach builds on natural curiosity, enabling children to interact, question, connect, problem-solve, communicate, and reflect. A project is defined as an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of the children’s attention and effort (Chard, 1998). Students work through three phases of project work from questioning to investigating to presenting. Unlike textbook driven instruction, project-based learning puts the students in charge of asking questions and discovering answers.
A bridge to somewhere
It's not just about getting from Point A to Point B
Building, Burning, and Repairing BridgesStudents in fourth grade spend the entire year gaining an understanding of different groups of people from different time periods and places and how their experiences shaped our history. Four very important historical events they study in depth during the year are The Revolutionary War, The Trail of Tears, the Civil War and slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement. Within each of these units, students begin to realize that “building bridges” between groups of people during times of change was no easy task.
A Real-World Experience
As a culminating activity, the fourth grade students build an actual bridge as a class and in return, gain a deeper understanding of how difficult and challenging it is to create something that everyone can agree upon. A natural connection is made as students quickly realize the actual bridge represents and symbolizes the historic events they learned about in social studies class class. This project-based learning activity is an art, life skills, language arts, and social studies integrated project.
It was shocking to me to see that this process started out in chaos. Everyone had ideas and wanted to be heard. We eventually voted and began to listen to each other and talk about our differences. We just wanted our bridge to be the one the next 4th grade class looked up to.Jasper Z '24Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Projects in grades 3-5 are based on challenging questions or tasks, enabling students to interact, question, connect, problem-solve, and reflect. Unlike textbook driven instruction, project-based learning puts the student in charge of asking questions and discovering answers.
How building impacts our world
Shaping our culture, geography and history
Architecture as ActivismThroughout the year, seventh graders consider what it means to be human. They look at how culture, geography, and history shape us as humans, but they must also think about how we as humans shape our respective cultures, geographies, and histories. How can we impact our world? How can we use our human power to make a difference? One way humans have made a difference is through our ability to build and create shelter. One way we can serve the public and the greater good is through architectural design. Design can play a direct role in critical social issues that we face. The process of creating the built environment can allow communities and individuals to improve and celebrate their lives. It can help solve their struggles by reshaping their existence.
The Result...For their culminating project, seventh grade students select one of the regions they have learned about this year (Asia, Africa, Middle East) and investigate a particular challenge facing people who live in this area of the world. They then create a plan for a building that addresses the need and that reflects the culture, geography, and ecology of the region. Students also investigate the “science of sustainability” by focusing on energy efficiency, waste/water reduction, and ‘green’ materials and discuss the considerations that need to be kept in mind when selecting a site on which to build as well as how best to manage a facility in order to get the most out of the incorporated green features. Using skills from many different subject areas, they create an action plan and architectural design, demonstrating how our abilities can impact the world for the better!
I liked how we had enough freedom to design what we wanted, but not too much where we were just overwhelmed. I learned how to construct a model, draft a floor plan, and how to design the interior of a building. Also, I learned that no problem is too big or too small to be addressed.Al W '20In the Middle School years, project-based learning becomes more interdisciplinary and helps student make connections between subject areas. Interdisciplinary projects are complex tasks, based on challenging questions, that involve students in design, problem-solving, decision making, or investigative activities; give students the opportunity to work relatively autonomously over extended periods of time; and culminate in realistic products or presentations. (Jones, Rasmussen, & Moffitt, 1997; Thomas, Mergendoller, & Michaelson, 1999). Projects at this level are geared toward carefully scaffolded student experiences focusing on hands-on, practical, and relevant work. A high level of collaborative teaching is required to successfully implement project-based learning in grades 5-8.
A crash-course in stop-motion film production
Exploring artistic eras and how those eras intersect with the popular tale of Jack and the Beanstalk
"Up The Beanstalk": A closer lookIn this intermezzo, students were put into small groups and assigned one of eight different artistic eras ranging from Classical to Medieval and Romantic to Post-Modern. Each group was then instructed to create a 3-minute animated film of "Jack and the Beanstalk" influenced by themes, art, and music from their respective artistic eras.
A Realistic End ProductAfter researching their respective artistic eras, each group produced a design board reflective of their creative inspirations and a storyboard outlining their plots. Then, they began filming! Characters were created out of clay, pipe cleaners, magazine cutouts, and the students themselves; by the end of the day on Thursday, students had taken thousands of pictures and were beginning to set them to music, narrate their stories, and finalize their cuts. When it came time for the "Up the Beanstalk" Film Festival on Friday morning—complete with freshly popped popcorn and lots of yummy treats—the Upper School had 16 films representative of the past two thousand or so years of human history.The primary goal of project-based learning in the Upper School is to allow students avenues for deeper learning, independence, critical thinking, collaboration, and creative contribution, while at the same time providing opportunities for students to see how the content of their academic courses intersects with the real world.