Project Based Learning

Gold Standard design elelments 0At the Downtown School, project-based learning is at the heart of classroom instruction.  Each project topic is focused on key standards-based knowledge, understanding, and skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and project management.  Each project features real-world context or authentic tasks and tools in which students are allowed to make their voice heard and also make choices about what they investigate, the products they create or how they work and use time, guided by their teacher.

Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information through reading, speaking and writing literacy.  Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.  Products are used to demonstrate student learning (artifacts, presentation, performance, and/or events).  Throughout the project process, both students and teachers engage in a cycle of reflection in which they ponder about the effectiveness of activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.

The Downtown School staff strive to implement gold-standard project based learning through their designing, planning and management, alignment to standards, building a culture of independence and inquiry, scaffolding and assessing student learning, and engaging and coaching student skills.  Teachers explicitly promote student independence and growth through scaffolding, encouraging open-ended inquiry, and drawing attention to quality work and student goals.  Each project based learning experience ensures students are working towards acquiring key knowledge, understanding, and success skills to be their best selves in the ever-changing world around them.

Integrated Project Topics by Grade Level

Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4
Kindergarten Toys and Play Weather Wonders Trees are Alive Enjoying and Appreciating Trees
Grade 1 Tools and Work The Sun, Moon, and Stars Birds’ Amazing Bodies Caring for Birds
Grade 2 Schools and Community Fossils Tell of Earth’s Changes The Secret World of Pollination Providing for Pollinators
Grade 3 Overcoming Learning Challenges Near and Far Adaptations and the Wide World of Frogs Exploring a Literacy Classic Water Conservations
Grade 4 Poetry, Poets and Becoming Writers Animal Defense Mechanisms The American Revolution Responding to Inequality: Ratifying the 19th Amendment
Grade 5 Stories of Human Rights Biodiversity in the Rainforest Leaders of Social Change The Impact of Natural Disasters

* Topics may vary based on authentic, real-world experiences happening in the community.