Many school classrooms look basically the same, desks are arranged around the room, students are in rows or groups, and there's a teacher leading the discussion and asking all of the questions. That environment works for some students, but does it work for YOUR child?
I'm currently reading, The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, and so many things in the book resonate with our school culture. The picture above is taken from the book and accurately describes the typical learning environment at Inspire Academy. Through the use of project based learning, direct instruction, AND personalized learning we have created the learner-focused classroom.
Research shows that project-based learning helps students improve their critical- thinkig skills. A meta-analysis of 35 studies of inquiry-based science strategies (for example, posing problems and asking students to conduct scientific experiments to solve them) found much larger gains in students' critical-thinking skills compared with conventional methods (Smith, 1996); this appears to be the area in which project-based learning yields the greatest benefits. One of our goals is to help students build their critical-thinking skills through relevant, hiqh quality project-based units, where students have voice and choice in their learning. We've noticed that students often feel that what they're learning in school has no correlation to the real world, and when they feel this way, students often lack motivation and interest in learning. Project-based learning helps students feel excited and passionate towards their education by providing a relevant context and a real world problem that needs solving.
Another study—an examination of a middle school history course that combined direct instruction with project-based learning, found that students gained more content knowledge in this class than with traditional methods, and they also gained more skill in historical thinking—the ability to interpret historical facts (Ramos & De La Paz, 2009). This study shows that students can gain both content knowledge and the crucial, real world problem solving skills in a project-based learning environment.
Our approach empowers students and faculty to become passionate, life long learners.