Project Based Learning


Project Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional method that has students working to solve real world problems.  By using the PBL method, COA invites students to develop 21st century skills. These skills will make students ready for life beyond high school by teaching them to ask good questions, collaborate, brainstorm solutions, experiment, and design a solution.  PBL relies on trial and error and means that what students engage in really does matter. 

At COA we design our projects with a focus on a culminating event.  Sometimes these events are public and sometimes they are more in house.  Students feel the importance of their work when they know that their efforts will be viewed by families, friends, district staff, and possibly placed on YouTube.  The culminating event is what connects all the various parts of their learning.  In the end students are accountable for their efforts beyond the report card.  Student voice and choice is crucial in getting these events to happen.

Students at COA hosted the Ottscars, an event showcasing student created movies that were 5 minutes long.  This was the culminating project for a Film Studies class and saw close to 65 guests for the event.  Parents and educators came together as they watched the students take pride in the night.  Students made the invitation using industry standard graphic design software, wrote scripts, edited the movies, filmed, hosted, and decorated the event. PBL allows students and staff to work alongside each other to learn and develop skills in film making and editing. Through PBL students can observe how adults work to solve problems and overcome frustration and anxiety. The best part of the PBL method is that every student can be an individual while contributing to a common goal that everyone takes credit for.  The Ottscars was special because the students made it special.