A Summer of Innovation: Part 4: A Talented DCPS Teacher Seeks to “Blend” Project-Based Learning

Alex Brown is a fifth grade math teacher at Randle Highlands Elementary School. Randle Highlands is a unique public elementary school because it one of few schools implementing a school-wide blended learning model. In fact, the expectation at Randle Highlands is that every teacher uses a station rotation learning model in his or her classroom. A typical class consists of the following:

  1. Each class begins with a warmup or “Do Now.”
  2. The teacher provides an “Introduction to New Materials,” or mini-lesson, within 15 minutes.
  3. Student learning occurs across three distinct, timed blended learning stations.

In Alex’s classroom, students rotate among three learning stations: a computer station, a collaborative or an independent work station, and a teacher-led or “guided practice” station. Although Randle Highlands already implements blended learning school-wide, Alex is seeking to raise the academic bar by merging project-based learning and the existing blended learning model.

Alex has a simple goal for the summer: He wants to learn as much about project-based learning as possible. That’s precisely why, during the summer weeks, he is actively researching project-based learning materials. Alex’s hope is that he can compile a rigorous list of project-based lesson plans and resources in order to introduce this new station in his classroom. He’s determined to find quality lesson materials because he wants this station to help students develop meaningful problem-solving skills.

Alex also wants to find ways to train teachers so they can use a similar project-based learning station in their classrooms. As a teacher, he understands the need to offer teachers ongoing and differentiated professional development, especially when it comes to to leveraging education technology. As a result, he plans to curate resources so he can create a teacher training—professional development—plan that he can carry out within his school. Rather than innovate in isolation, Alex wants to offer interested teachers a repository for project-based and blended learning resources.

Alex has designed this research to allow himself to iterate on a meaningful teacher training plan for current and future teachers. Above all, his greatest hope is that Randle Highlands becomes a leading project-based learning and blended learning model for the District of Columbia Public Schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about project-based learning or if want to share your best practices and resources with Alex, feel free to reach out to him on Twitter at @perspectivedc.

Off for now…

Angel Cintron Jr., Contributing Blogger and 2014 Education Innovation Fellow
Angel cropped

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