Last winter several faculty from The Little Schools in Hillsborough and Duke visited The Duke School in Durham, NC for intensive training in the project-based learning (PBL). The lessons learned at the "Deeper Dive" sessions were soon applied to classrooms in both Little School campuses. As the lead teacher in a pre-k class I worked with my co-teachers to integrate this new approach into a curriculum philosophy that already included Reggio influences. By March we began our PBL journey in earnest when we started canvasing our students for topics they would be interested in pursuing formally. PBL demands that topics of study must be real-world and concrete. We jettisoned proposals that included dinosaurs and supernatural creatures. Making the cut and eventually becoming the class topic was "house." Over the next several months we worked together to generate research questions, read books about the topic, learn about carpentry, participate with experts, draw and build models, and learn as much as we could through research and experiences.
The PBL approach is originally rooted in the educational writings of John Dewey. More recently, researchers Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard have outlined PBL's tenets and promoted their use. As our investigation into houses began loosing some of its momentum, we arranged for an exposition of all the work we had amassed until that point. Also called the "Culmination Day," This event brings parents, other students, and teachers together to demonstrate their appreciation for student work. In the Otter room we held our Culmination Day on May 5th and decided to document the experience with a small flip camera.
The video below uses the footage gathered on that day: