Teachers at eight HISD high schools are preparing their coursework for the upcoming year a bit differently than they have in the past. Campus teams from Chavez, Eastwood Academy, Furr, Lee, Milby, Reagan, Sterling, and Westside are refining plans to teach core subjects through project-based learning — a part of the district’s commitment to the Linked Learning approach. These campus teams shared their plans at the Linked Learning Summer Institute during June.
With project-based learning, students are assigned projects created by campus teacher teams. Project assignments range from every three months to one per semester or one per year, and cover a wide variety of subjects.
Eastwood shared a proposed project plan on the impact of the Houston MetroRail on its surrounding southeast Houston neighborhood. Furr’s project will attempt to answer the question “How can renewable energy change the quality of life for a less developed country and impact our individual lives?” Westside will tackle sustainability and the impact of pollution in Houston.
“Students will be able to carry their projects through from class to class to class,” said assistant superintendent Adam Stephens, “So the conversations will be similar, the vocabulary will be similar.”
The purpose of these projects is to unify student experiences and real-world applications with core subjects, such as mathematics, biology or English language arts, in the classroom. At the end of the term, students must explain their culminating project in front of a board chosen by the campus — a process similar to presenting a graduate school thesis.
Summer trainings provide a venue for exchange of ideas, refinement of techniques, and feedback, but campus teams will also have frequent meetings throughout the year to allow for improvements and adjustments.