What it is and why it matters for your child
Project-based learning is Pardes Jewish Day School’s innovative approach to teaching children at every grade level. When students are constantly engaged in meaningful projects, they develop an authentic love for learning. It is a transformative experience that promotes deep learning and fosters a sense of purpose in every child.
What is Project-Based Learning?
In a traditional classroom, students may work on a couple hands-on projects each semester. These are viewed as “special” experiences, and are typically short-term in nature.
Project-based learning at Pardes allows students to work on projects regularly, many of which span over an extended period of time, from one week to an entire semester. With PBL, the project is the vehicle for learning and not something they do at the end of learning to prove understanding. It is process over product.
What Project-Based Learning Looks Like in Action
After a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum, the kindergarteners designed and created blueprints, then constructed their own instruments to share with our community! The students were asked to demonstrate how their own instrument could make sound.
Our students dissected old electronics and talked about where these electronics end up – the dump. Then they researched how other countries recycle and dispose of their electronics. After several writing projects, online research, group presentations and more, the third grade students incorporated their findings into their larger “Create Your Own Country” project.
Students discovered ways to decrease their personal carbon footprint through recycling, composting, repurposing, and reusing things that would typically end up in landfills. They also led schoolwide change by identifying areas to help decrease the school’s footprint. Several groups presented their findings and recommendations to the Pardes administrative team and prompted us into action. The issues they discovered included our physical structure, environmental impact, our connection to Israel, and social issues. Eighth graders also created Ted-style talks promoting the change they wish to see in the world.
The Why Behind Our Approach
It all comes down to student engagement. When students are actively engaged, they are more invested, they learn the content, and they build the important skills of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communications. The energy inside a project-based classroom is contagious and fosters a sense of purpose in every child.
Our rigorous, project-based curriculum emphasizes the development of self-directed learners. The work of “school” becomes authentic, relevant, and subsequently engaging. Learning extends beyond the walls of the classroom and across time and place.
Students exposed to project-based learning:
- Become motivated and invested through active engagement
- Have a broad, deep understanding of the world
- Make connections between subjects
- Think critically and creatively
- Communicate and collaborate with others
- Create, evaluate, and utilize information
- Are career-ready and prepared for life
A Proven Approach for Every Age and Stage
Whether you have a kindergartener or a teen, project-based learning is extremely beneficial. In the early years, we want our students to focus on the learning process rather than solely focusing on getting the “right” answer. The project-based process of learning through asking questions and trying out different solutions creates a foundation of valuable skills that serve our youngest learners throughout their entire educational journey. As students move toward middle school and high school, the project-based approach encourages ownership over learning and time management. At Pardes, our middle schoolers develop a broad, deep understanding of the world and are encouraged to think about how they are going to be active, engaged citizens.
Check out a group of Pardes seventh-grade students presenting their project to the Administrative team.