This year TMSA embarked upon a schoolwide initiative under the leadership of our new Principal, Ishmael Abdul-Salaam. With his vision of offering a world-class education and improving overall academics at the school in mind, he contracted School Improvement Consultant, Dr. Adrienne Walton with Bridge to Student Success, to train all teachers on Project Based Learning throughout the year. She provided the necessary assistance for all students on all grade levels to participate in a culminating activity where the students shared their presentations and exhibitions.
A bit about Project Based Learning, also known as PBL...It is an approach to learning that requires students to answer a real-world question – such as “How can we plan a profitable walk-a-thon to benefit a cause we care about?” or solve a real-world problem such as “What can we do to ensure our school community remains clean and safe?” – and explore it over a period of weeks. Teachers incorporate grade-level instruction into the project, which is designed to meet current academic goals and standards, and students learn content and skills while working collaboratively with their peers, thinking critically about the topic, and probing deeply into the research. At the end, the students’ work is shared publicly with an identified audience.
PBL is “active” and “engaging” which captures and keeps the student’s attention. Research indicates that this innovative approach is aligned with the following outcomes:
- Students learn with understanding, retain what they learn, and are able to apply that learning to new situations.
- Schools experience higher attendance and graduation rates and are more likely to attend four-year colleges.
- Student motivation and interest are maximized.
- Students score higher on traditional and performance-based assessments. (ASCD, 2018)
Based on debriefings with teachers, Dr. Walton learned that teachers, though somewhat apprehensive initially, were very impressed by the students’ thirst for more hands-on learning, more research on topics they enjoy, as well as the students’ eagerness to collaborate with their peers.
TMSA scholars across all grade levels did an amazing job! Here are a few snapshots:
2nd-grade scholars discussed the contributions of African American Heroes.
6th-grade scholars created a skit on “How To Curtail Cyberbullying” and developed brochures on how to put an end to it.
7th-grade scholars presented to 1st-grade scholars on how they developed a Monarch Butterfly Weigh Station at TMSA.
Kindergarten scholars delivered presentations on notable African American scientists and conducted experiments to show how their contributions continue to impact our world today.
5th-grade scholars shared works of renowned African American artists and discussed how art can be incorporated into all aspects of life.
4th-grade scholars shared field trip opportunities for the various regions throughout Georgia and the requirements needed to go there.
3rd-grade scholars used various media outlets to showcase the need for recycling in the school as well as throughout the community. This presenter developed a PowerPoint presentation.
8th-grade scholars developed an Atomic Museum. This curator introduced and led the guided tour for the audience.
1st-grade scholars proposed the best routes to “Get To Safety” in the event of a fire at TMSA.