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PROJECTS AT HAMTRAMCK HIGH SCHOOL 1. Are You Buying Or Leasing Your Dream Car? – Daniela Gjorgjevska 27 ninth graders picked a dream car and investigated the costs to lease, pay in cash, or pay with a loan. Students used the web and graphing calculators to collect information about their car. Students were clearly engaged in their work, and everyone completed a project.

2. Better Ball – Laura Baugh 27 students used CBR2 sonic motion detectors and calculators to compare the performance of different basketballs to find the best ball. Through group inquiry, the students discovered what a quadratic function and parabola looks like in real-life. The students were highly motivated throughout the project.

3. Building Bridges – Brenda Parker, Daniela Gjorgjevska, Laura Baugh

How do you design a sturdy bridge? In groups, 62 Geometry students built bridges using triangles. Students learned how theorems of congruent triangles are used to design a sturdy bridge; results were summarized in written reports. The average project grade in Ms. Parker’s class was 92%.

4. Building Roller Coasters – Fathella Abdel-Salam How does physics make your roller coaster the best? 25 students divided into teams built roller coasters using marbles and foam pipe insulation to observe how gravitational potential energy of a marble at the start is converted to kinetic energy at various points along the track. Teams demonstrated understanding of physics principles by presenting projects to visiting teachers.

6. Stop The Violence – Nancy Erickson How can we reduce violence in our community? 100 students received direct instruction and experiential activities about the causes and consequences of violence. They applied this knowledge to create public service announcements and guest editorials for an authentic audience.

LESSONS LEARNED Although PBL has been a strategy for many years, educators – especially in high schools where time is short and stakes are high – may worry that planning projects is too time-consuming and measuring student outcomes is too difficult. Due to the opportunities presented by the MDE grant, however, the 31 pioneering teachers who participated have demonstrated increased skill in designing and implementing rigorous projects. All projects were aligned to standards and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles were embedded in project designs.

Along our journey, we learned some valuable lessons:

1. Develop district guidelines to assist teachers in applying for and getting approval for grants, ordering materials/technology, assigning and inventorying technology and scheduling staff development.


Set aside some staff development time to support teachers planning for and implementing Project Based Learning.

3. Provide opportunities for grant participants to work together and share experiences in person. Online collaboration without these experiences is difficult to sustain.

4. Provide opportunities locally for innovating teachers to present and showcase their strategies to engage 21st

Century learners.

5. Ensure both teachers and administrators attend the MACUL conference.

6. The online survey site,, provides an excellent assessment tool.

In closing, we believe that our MDE grant project has been a resounding success and may provide a road map for other districts interested in implementing Project Based Learning. To find out more about individual projects, final reports have been posted on the Leading PBL Website, managed by RESA Consultant John McCarthy, accessible at : We welcome your comments and questions!

Jeff Crockett is an instructional technology consultant, formerly Assistive Technology Coordinator for Plymouth-Canton Schools.

This roller coaster was developed by a team of students to demonstrate Physics principles.

5. President for the Day – Laurie Kroon Based upon historical events, core democratic values and constitutional principles, what is the role of the US in the world today? 80 students created a persuasive presentation in their preferred format on a current public policy issue, using historical and current evidence to support their point of view. 74 students received either a B or A.

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Cyndi Burnstein is an English Teacher and Teacher Coordinator of the 9th Grade Smaller Learning Communities at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.

We would also like to recognize the following people for their contributions: P-CCS Director of Technology Jim Casteel

Hamtramck Assistant Superintendent Dr. Shari Charns P-CCS Special Ed Administrator Joslyn Sylo PCCS Moodle Coordinator Carol Isakson RESA Consultant John McCarthy RESA Consultant Beth Baker MDE Grant facilitator Marsha Myles (

Winter 2010/11 | MACULJOURNAL

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