From learning to book a holiday in the South Pacific to uncovering ways to inform the community about the struggling plight of sea turtles, students at Port Macquarie Adventist School are bringing the real world into the classroom.
In 2019 the school has taken a calculated step to incorporate project based learning into every year level to develop students critical thinking skills.
School principal Joyanne Walsh said project based learning is a great way for students to take charge of their learning.
"Project based learning takes away the idea that a teacher is the fountain of all knowledge and empowers students to think critically about the world," Ms Walsh said.
"Each term each class takes on a new project based on a driving question that can't be answered with a yes or no answer and can't just be googled.
"The idea is that the students take ownership of their project and the driving question allows students to deep dive into their learning in a different way.
The idea is that the students take ownership of their project and the driving question allows students to deep dive into their learning in a different way.Joyanne Walsh
"They have to problem solve and work as a group to brainstorm where they can find the answers and who (other than teachers) can help them."
Ms Walsh said that each class has a completely different project but that students had really embraced the new concept.
"The project based learning does not take away from teachers teaching the mechanics of hand writing or counting for example but this learning does expand the way we can learn," she said.
"Students take charge of their learning and develop problem solving skills, reliance, critical thinking skills, how to collaborate and work as part of a team.
"So many skills that employers are seeking and will be putting emphasis on more and more. In the workplace you won't always have the answer but if you can work out how to find it that is a valuable skill."
Students Poppy Graham and Chelsea Moran said they both love the new approach to learning at school.
"Project based learning is super fun because it is not always sitting in the classroom," Poppy said.
"We have to work in teams and come up with answers to problems and we have to be creative about it."
"I think a good part of the project is getting feedback from people in your class," Chelsea said.
"When people give you feedback they aren't trying to be mean but they just want to help you which I think is important."
Ms Walsh said across the board students are learning about a range of different things.
"In year one students are pretending to be biologists to try and grapple with protecting sea turtles from ocean pollution.
"It can sounds like a large concept but the students have been working all term learning about sea turtles and where the live and in the project now they are looking at ways to stop rubbish ending up in the ocean.
Engaging the whole class in a project like this gives them ownership over it and makes them more invested.Joyanne Walsh
"The year five and six classes are planning our school fair which might sound simple but it has been a lot of work. They have had to deal with deadlines, finding and booking stallholders, marking out stall sites, creating promotional films and creating posters and press releases.
"They have done everything from listening to special guests come in and talk to them about writing press releases so the community knows about the fair to going out on the oval to see if we have enough space for the stall holders.
"Engaging the whole class in a project like this gives them ownership over it and makes them more invested."
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