Project-Based Learning - Build Your Own Learning

  • Curriculum
Carroll Connection, Winter 2016

Project-based learning (PBL)—open-ended, student-directed projects that draw on multiple academic areas—is flourishing at Carroll this year, thanks to “Gec Washman” and the new schedule. “During the Flex Block, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders rotate between three 10-week blocks: skill work, TCI, and project-based learning,” explains Todd Bearson, head of PBL at the Middle School.

Each Middle School grade is tackling one question, with groups pursuing answers in ways they design. “Seventh grade considered ‘what is waste, and what can we do about it?’” says Bearson, noting that groups approached the question from varying vantage points. “One created a pamphlet about different kinds of waste, which involved data manipulation and graph reading. One group examined waste through legislation, looking at the Clean Air and Water Act. Another built a composter from scratch, which required all sorts of mathematical and scientific work. It was a rich experience.”

Sixth graders began their PBL unit mid-November. “They are asking, ‘what are the most important parts of a sustainable community?’ Ultimately, they will create proposals to bring to the Board of Trustees on how Carroll can reduce its energy usage,” he says.

Project-based learning is a great fit for Carroll School, according to Bearson. “Kids are more interested because they’re directing their own learning. It plays to the dyslexic advantage. If someone’s a musician, he can write a song about it. If another is good with her hands, she can build something. The work is more authentic; students apply the skills they’re learning immediately and know exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing. As a result, they retain what they learn much longer.”

But the biggest benefit of all? “So much of what we do at Carroll, understandably, is about addressing students’ weaknesses,” Bearson concludes. “Project-based learning allows us to address their strengths.”

  • Curriculum
  • Project-Based Learning



Recent Posts

The Importance of an Inclusive and Diverse School Culture
Carroll Connection, Winter 2018

Over the decades, Carroll has evolved from a program that offered a superb remedial program but limitations in other offerings to a complete school with strengths in many additional curricular and extracurricular areas. Have we made a difference? Read what our students say about school culture.

Creating Better Learners by Boosting Cognitive Skills
Carroll Connection, Winter 2018

At Carroll, we believe our job is to create better learners. Part of the answer is Cognitive Intervention. Targeted Cognitive Intervention (TCI) gets to the underlying “causes” of a child’s specific learning challenge and helps to build better brain circuits that promote more effective and efficient learning. We asked students to describe TCI … 

Social-Emotional Wellbeing Goes Hand in Hand with Dyslexia Education
Carroll Connection, Winter 2018

We believe that academic growth and social-emotional learning go hand in hand. Carroll is an environment that makes learning differently a completely normal and daily occurrence. We work diligently to reverse the “I’m stupid” mindset that many students come to Carroll with. Hear what students think ...