Stilwell Students Educate Community About Project-Based Learning

Seventh-grade learners at Stilwell Junior High educated community members about project-based learning (PBL) at the West Des Moines Community Schools through gallery-walk style projects on Friday, Sept. 20.

Student groups part of Melissa Clayton’s and Peter Bissinger’s humanities classes collaborated, researched, and created marketing materials to support their data and explain how PBL classrooms differ from the more traditional classroom model. Attendees on Friday went from group to group to learn more about the PBL process.

“We always try to pose a problem to our students through the driving question, and through a project we try to figure out how to solve the problem,” Clayton said. “Our project initially is called our ‘project launch,’ and we’re helping teach the students and the community about what project-based learning is and what their options are.”

Clayton added that this is her fifth year teaching PBL, and that she has never seen students grow and mature more within an academic year than she has teaching through this program.

“The students really grow in confidence in their speaking skills, in their collaboration skills, and the maturity levels by the end of the year. A lot of times, they don’t seem like seventh-graders anymore,” Clayton said.

One student, Maya Crncevic, said what surprised her the most throughout this project is how she improved as a communicator.

“I love to communicate, but I never really knew how to,” she said. “Researching PBL helped me better communicate with my peers, which is actually really great because now it’s easier for me to talk and open up and not be really quiet like I used to be.”

Learn more about project-based learning at WDMCS, and check out the video above to watch scenes from the event.

Photos: Stilwell PBL Gallery Walk