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and publicize the “Green Dream” project, a daylong, community event to heighten environ- mental awareness. This event has become a massive community-wide event held every April since 2007, drawing thousands of people to see over 70 local businesses and organizations display their environmentally-friendly practices, services, and products. It also raises money to build and maintain a “green classroom” with solar panels and an outdoor learning envi- ronment. The success of the event is directly connected to the students’ understanding and application of marketing campaigns from their classroom project.

At the ARISE Academy in Oakland, California, students in the 11th grade Humanities class ex- perience a multifaceted project focusing on the question, “What creates change and a move- ment?” They learn about the history of social movements in the U.S. and choose a civil rights topic for a research paper. In their service learning internship, students conduct some sort of social action related to their topic. In partnership with the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking, they produce a short film about themselves, their families, and/or people in their community in relation to civil rights. Finally, students present their work to a committee, answering questions about the choices they made, their knowledge of the topic, and their reflections on what was gained by doing the project.

These are not projects where students simply apply what they have learned from traditional instruction. This is “main course” Project-Based Learning where students learn the material from completing the project. Project -Based Learning:

• is organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge. The question focuses students’ work and deepens their learning by centering on significant issues, debates, questions and/or problems,

• creates a need to know essential content and skills,

• reverses the order in which information and concepts are traditionally presented. Typical projects (and most instruction) begin by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then gives them the opportunity to apply the learning.

• begins with the vision of an end product or presentation which requires learning spe- cific knowledge and concepts, thus creating a context and reason to learn and under- stand the information and concepts.

• requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new. In main course Project- Based Learning, not all learning has to be based on inquiry, but some should. And this

Virginia Educational Leadership

Vol. 7 No. 1

Spring 2010

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