Project Based Learning

1-What is PBL?

2-HCSS PBL Coordinator

3-More Information About PBL 

3-HCSS PBL Projects

What is PBL?

Project Based Learning is an instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.

Project Based Learning is synonymous with learning in depth. A well-designed project provokes students to encounter (and struggle with) the central concepts and principles of a discipline.

Project Based Learning teaches students 21st century skills as well as content. These skills include communication and presentation skills, organization and time management skills, research and inquiry skills, self-assessment and reflection skills, and group participation and leadership skills.

Project Based Learning is generally done by groups of students working together toward a common goal. Performance is assessed on an individual basis, and takes into account the quality of the product produced, the depth of content understanding demonstrated, and the contributions made to the ongoing process of project realization.

Finally, Project Based Learning allows students to reflect upon their own ideas and opinions, exercise voice and choice, and make decisions that affect project outcomes and the learning process in general.

Combining these considerations, we define Project Based Learning as:

A systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.


HCSS PBL Coordinator


PBL-Who is the Ultimate Poet?

That was the driving question for the 6th grader’s most recent PBL. To find the answer to the driving question the 6th graders worked in collaborative groups to complete various components of the “Ultimate Poet PBL”. The 6th graders researched their poets, and used their collected facts to persuade classmates and other members of the student body that they, indeed, had the ultimate poet. The components of the “Ultimate Poet PBL” included web research, writing a bibliography, analyzing a poem by the assigned poet, writing their own original poem, constructing a show board and creating a PowerPoint presentation. Throughout the PBL the 6th graders worked on 21st century skills including collaboration, public speaking, and using technology. The results are in, and even though only a few poets were chosen as the “Ultimate Poet Champions of the World 2012”, all the 6th graders had an educational, engaging and entertaining experience completing the PBL. 

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PBL - Speaking Out Against Bullying

Throughout the month of November, 9th graders at HCSS explored speaking out against bullying through the arts. They answered the question: How students can use their experience as 9th graders to relate to the book “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson and mixed media in art and music to create a public service announcement?After exploring how abstract sentiments like pain, hopeless, relief look like, students worked in groups of 3-4 to create a spoken word poem, 4 chord guitar progression and an art piece to express their opinion.  Mr. Darling, Mr. Wall and Ms. Martinez helped the students develop and discover their artistic voices.  The project culminated in an assembly December 3rd, 2012, in which the 9th graders show cased their artwork, and performed their poem set to the guitar music each group had developed.  The goal was to inspire their fellow middle school peers to stand up against bullying.  Special thanks to Mrs. Anne Marie Hurley, Taniesha Burton, and Ms. Colleen Kennedy for helping us judge the performances. Great work everyone!

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PBL - Election Day

On Monday, November 5th, HCSS held its own Election Day. Hosted by the 10th, 11th, and some 12th graders, the U.S. History and American Government classes presented a PBL presentation. The American Government students provided an explanation of the political spectrum and after, performed a mock debate. This portion of the presentation was to help students learn about the Democratic and Republican view on government involvement in society.

After the debate, the U.S. History students presented several issues concerning this year’s presidential election, including unemployment, education reform, immigration, and welfare. Seniors of the American Government classes presented the Massachusetts State Ballot Questions.

Following the presentations, the students had an opportunity to vote for who they wanted for the president, and senator, as well as the MA state ballot questions. Along with answering these questions, students were to determine if the voting age should be lowered to age 16. After this presentation, the majority of the middle school students had voted for the eligibility to vote at age 16, meanwhile the majority of the high school students disagreed. As for the results of the presidential election and state ballot questions, the HCSS school-wide popular vote mimicked the results of the actual presidential election and state ballot.

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PBL- Make a TV Commercial in Spanish

The 9th and 10th grade Spanish Class presented their videos last week as the culmination of four weeks working on the PBL “Make a TV commercial in Spanish”. Mrs. Mendez guided them in the production with the help of Mrs. Injeti and Mr. Guler. Students were assigned to advertise an American product for a Spanish-speaking audience. With humor, creativity, organization and collaboration they achieved their objective: 18 commercials which they proudly shared with the HCSS family!

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PBL- Nutrition

The purpose of the nutrition PBL is for students to take a look at their dietary habits and to be aware of the vitamin and mineral content of the foods they eat.  Each student prepared a healthy meal.  In addition to the meal preparation students created a menu listing the ingredients of the meal, the vitamins and minerals in each ingredient, and the function of each vitamin and mineral in the body.  The students presented their meals and menus to their classmates.  This PBL gave students not only the opportunity to learn about the functions of vitamins and minerals in the body but also the opportunity to sample various recipes and food combinations they were not previously aware of.  At the end of the PBL the students showed an eagerness to eat more nutrient dense foods! I am hoping they carry this lesson into their preparation of meals and diet for the rest of their lives!

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