Monday, 16 June 2014

Project Based Learning at CLV

Projecting success at CLV

What is Project?

Cramlington Learning Village is putting into Project Based Learning (PBL) into our core curriculum.  Project Based Learning refers to students designing, planning, and carrying out an extended project that produces a publicly-exhibited output such as a product, publication, or exhibition. This year Year 7 students have around 20% of their curriculum time delivered through project based learning primarily in Science and Humanities.  This is supported by our Learn to Learn programme.

World Class Education Study Tours

Over the last three years senior leaders and key practitioners have worked alongside partners such as the Innovation Unit and Whole Education to use study tours to High Tech High in San Diego and Expeditionary Learning Schools in New England to build our understanding of PBL and the learning it brings to students in our own context.  Cramlington Learning Village is working as part of the Learning through REAL Projects Pilot  to drive forward and evaluate the impact of PBL.  

Why PBL?

Our own experience and the growing community of practice around PBL demonstrates the impact deep learning opportunities bring to our young people.  Cramlington Learning Village is proud to offer a curriculum which not only optimises achievement but builds opportunities to develop the key attributes and dispositions (our 5Rs) in meaningful ways.  PBL offers further opportunity to build on a core principle of our school - to develop independent learners and thinkers.  Evidence shows also that working on authentic, well designed Projects increases engagement for young people.  Moreover PBL helps our organisation to develop classroom norms for critique which empower students to make improvements in their work; to work hard to perfect work in light of critical analysis.  Finally, the principles of curating, displaying and exhibiting beautiful work gives our young people a real sense of what can be achieved

There are 3 key areas of the curriculum where PBL is central to the experience of our young people:

Project Fortnight - the high point in our educational year happens in June.  Almost 1000 students from Years 7-9 engage in intensive 2 week projects in small groups. The outcomes are astonishing.  They range from professional, bespoke chairs designed from scratch using mathematical principles to CDs sold on iTunes comprising original music inspired by local birdsong and accompanied by hand drawn illustrations as sleeve notes.  The impact of Project Fortnight for many of our young people is transformative; it brings real authenticity to their learning and leaves a lasting impression on how they view school and what can be achieved.

Experience Week

In February Years 7-9 engage in a week long project delivered through the normal curriculum.  Students create their own timetable based around workshops offered around a planned core theme.  Each department plans workshops around the theme culminating in two days where pupils craft their final product to show their learning.  Examples of the beautiful work created by students is displayed in the JLV street.  Students love the variety of experience and the way the theme brings relevance to their learning. It brings a crucial opportunity to develop a culture of drafting, critique and the meaning of quality work. 

In 2014 the focus of the week was the “Big Write”  with students in Year 7+8 creating an A-Z of their learning around the theme of “East meets West”.  Year 9 students were challenged to think about “What if…?” For example, students had the chance to visit workshops ranging from “What if the Cuban missile crisis had escalated?” and “What if Vampires were real?” in order to inspire their amazing written pieces.  Each home group produced a book which is to be published very soon.

Current Projects
Pupils exhibit their learning
to family and friends

Year 7 are introduced to PBL with a project entitled: “Who am I?  Here I am, illuminated” in Humanities.  This first project is about Culture, Community and Contribution.
Students will create a piece of really high quality work which will establish for students the culture and work ethic of life at Cramlington.  This will be an opportunity for the classroom communities to explore the identity, skills, qualities and contributions that each individual brings to the learning journey they are about to embark on over the course of the next seven years.
Students will investigate the story of the creation of the Lindisfarne gospels- Northumberland’s greatest treasure and use this as inspiration to craft their own illuminated manuscript page , learning calligraphy along the way!

Sample draft page from the EAT book
Year 7 students have just completed the Educate a Town project (E.A.T.) in science.  The theme was inspired by the local issues of health and lifestyle. Students are working with experts from Newcastle University and local community members investigating eating habits, consumer issues as well as the science of nutrition. The result has been a carefully researched and scientifically written book for everyday consumers helping them to make healthy choices and become informed about the food they eat which will be available to buy locally.

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