Project Based Learning
York teachers go beyond the lecture. We know it's more engaging, and rewarding, for our students to get involved in their learning. Here are some examples of how our teachers structure active learning and guide students to make learning “stick.”
Algebra I - Owl Box Project: Algebra meets biology, meets carpentry, meets owl.
Inspired by "design thinking," Math teacher Susan Neubert worked with her Algebra I students, parents, and biology teacher Kim Kiest to build houses for barn owls.
The students developed all logistics and strategies for the project.They had to get information about the correct size for the boxes, then figure out how to cut the templates from large plywood pieces with a minimum amount of waste. Most of the wood was recycled from an abandoned tortoise enclosure on campus. Parents helped cut the wood, then the students used drills, power screwdrivers, glue, and clamps to assemble the owl boxes in October, 2013.
"My goal was to create a project-based learning activity to make algebra applicable to real life,” said Mrs. Neubert. The installation of an owl box in the Outdoor Lab was completed in April, 2014, with the help of the 8th grade science class and 10th-12th graders in the Environmental Science class.
World History I
Under the theory “what you teach, you learn,” 9th graders studying geography in Mike Borrowman’s World History I class make five-minute presentations about cultural elements--Chinese opera, French food, Latin jazz, etc--that are important in the countries they are studying. How they choose to handle the assignment--Powerpoint, skit, demonstration--is up to the individual or group. It’s one of the many ways students gain experience in public speaking, a repetition that builds confidence in a critical skill.
World History II
One of the most popular units in Abby Drivdahl’s sophomore World History II is the Dictator Project, in which students research historical figures and engage in spirited debates to determine which was the most reprehensible. Posters, presentations, and role playing are all part of the project. On a calmer note, the sophomores also participate in an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony, kimonos included, that enables them to learn about and practice an important cultural rite. Abby “Sensei” lived and taught in Japan for three years and enjoys sharing her experiences with students.