Project-Based Learning

Teaching that Engages...

At the i3 Academy all coursework is covered through a project-based learning approach to the curriculum.  Our i3 scholars work in groups on projects that have them creating, making, and doing.  Traditional lectures and rote memorization were great strategies in the past, but today’s graduates are entering a very different world, where creativity, collaboration, and tech savviness are in demand.  Learning at the i3 Academy is still focused on the standards, but also stresses the importance of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and integrity.  Thanks to the support of our community on the Half Penny Sales Tax, our scholars each have a MacBook air that serves as an invaluable learning tool that allows our scholars to use the world as their classroom.  Our teachers are known as facilitators, as they work alongside each group, to facilitate the learning process and lead each group toward the acquisition of knowledge. Our scholars are able to immerse themselves in their coursework and become owners of their own learning.  The projects that our scholars work on might mimic something that they may have to do as adult members of our community or may even be useful in some way to our school or local community now.  These projects require our scholars to work as a team as they think critically, problem solve, and push themselves to strive for their own personal best, while regularly seeking out connections with people in our local community and even the world in order to make their learning more authentic.

 

Project Examples:

  • "Prosthetics for Paws": Students in Mrs. VandeBunte's Anatomy of Art class design prosthetic limbs for dogs with missing limbs. The designs are then printed on a 3-D printer and fit to real dogs in our community.
  • "Career Source Portal/Internships": Senior studies students have been working hard to create a 'senior internship' course from the ground up that will be implemented next school year at i3. Students have also been creating media to compel businesses to join the portal's internship program as well as FAQ sheets for students and teachers. 
  • "Captain Planet Initiative": Students in Mrs. VandeBunte's Environmental Science classes are building solar panels and a greenhouse to reduce the carbon footprint of Flagler Schools while providing families with access to organic produce.
  • "UV and Sunscreen": Students in Mr. Cox's Chemistry class studied the science behind the harmful effects of UV radiation and the benefits of sunscreen. Students created an infographic that can be used as a poster or flyer in the community. 
  • "Finding Success in America": Mr. Ward and Rinyu's U.S. Studies course are playing an RPG style game comprised of mini projects revolving around U.S. History from the late 1800s to the 1930s. The goal of this 'game' is to become the mayor of New York City, which is achieved by winning points for the projects completed. The winner will have a party thrown in their honor.
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New Tech Project Vocabulary:

  1. Entry Event or Entry Doc: A guest speaker, document, or video that introduces the project to the class and leaves a trail of breadcrumbs as to what the final product will look like.  The Entry Event or Entry Doc creates excitement and motivates students for the learning to come.
  2. Problem Statement: The class works together to create a statement that will help to focus the learning, so that all effort is purposeful and aligned toward project goals.  The format for the Problem Statement is: How do we as.... create.... so that..... 
  3. Group Contract: These contracts are created by each group at the start of a project.  They allow all group members to list their contact information, determine their group priorities, create strategies for accomplishing these priorities, and also to develop individual consequences for group members that do not pull their own weight.
  4. Next Steps: The class or group will work together to continually create a list of Next Steps that will guide them as they continue to move through the project.  Creating Next Steps allows the group to plan for the future and always know what comes next.  Groups that continually create Next Steps are better able to manage and effectively use their project work time.
  5. Project Briefcase: The Project Briefcase is created by the facilitator for each project and is housed within the course on Echo, our online learning management system.  The Project Briefcase is filled with valuable project resources and also lists every assignment within the project.
  6. Benchmarks: Benchmark assignments will be listed within the Project Briefcase in Echo.  These assignments may be slightly different in each course.  Some facilitators may create Benchmarks that are individual assignments/assessments within the project that check for individual comprehension.  Other facilitators may create Benchmark assignments that are group oriented and allow for the submission of parts of the project, that will eventually be assembled together for the culminating project.  Either way, Benchmarks are used to ensure that students are moving forward toward mastery of the standards assessed within the project. 
  7. Critical Friends: The Critical Friends feedback protocol is often used by facilitators and scholars to present project work before a group of  "critical friends"  in a structured reflective conversation aimed at project refinement and improvement.
  8. Culminating Project Presentation: Every project ends in some kind of project presentation.  Some projects may be presented to the facilitator and class, while others may be presented to a panel of community members.
     

A Learning Environment that Supports...

Breakout Rooms:

Our scholars have access to Breakout Rooms that allow their group to have a more private space to work.  These rooms are useful to scholars as they may need a quite space away from the hustle and bustle of the classroom in order to focus on the task at hand. We have 6 Breakout Rooms set up around the campus. The one most commonly used are the Breakout Rooms in portable 3. Each Breakout Room is equipped with seating for 5, dry erase boards, a TV, and an Apple TV. The TV and Apple TV work together to allow our scholars to collaborate more effectively.  Through the Apple TV our scholars can project their laptop screen onto the TV and even access some Apps.  All scholars that maintain ownership of their Trust Card are able to access these Breakout Rooms.  Scholars take advantage of these rooms for many different purposes: preparing for a debate, preparing for a presentation, recording audio or just to have a quiet work environment.