REALM Charter School is a learning community founded on the principles of Love, Grit, and Action. REALM serves students grades 6-12 with a focus on college preparedness, project-based learning, and social justice. Our middle and high school programs support and challenge the whole child through rigorous curriculum, a personalized advisory program, and creative enrichment opportunities. We prepare students to succeed in college and beyond by connecting the classroom to their community, core content to creativity, and their own voice to contemporary citizenship.
Why Project-based Learning (PBL)? Project-based learning (PBL) is one of REALM Charter School’s main strategies to increase academic achievement. Project-based learning is backed by comprehensive evidence that demonstrates deeper student understanding and retention (Boaler, 1997, Geier, Blumenfeld, Marx, Krajcik, Fishman, Soloway, & Clay-Chambers, 2008). Research shows that, in PBL, learners actively use what they know to explore, negotiate, interpret, and create (Dochy, Segers, Van den Boss Leary, 2008). Through PBL, students develop a better capability to integrate and explain concepts (Capon and Kuhn, 2004), which prepares students for future learning (Schwartz and Martin, 2004). Furthermore, project-based learning has been shown to engage students (Boaler, 1992), cut absenteeism (Creghan and Adair-Creghan, 2015), boost cooperative learning skills, improve standardized test scores (Geier, Blumenfeld, Marx, et al., 2008), and increase academic achievement (Geier, Blumenfeld, Marx, Krajcik, Fishman, Soloway, & Clay-Chambers, 2008, Mergendoller, Maxwell and Bellisimo 2007, Hickey, Kindfield, Horwitz and Christie, 1999, Lynch, Kuipers, Pyke and Szesze, 2005, Walker and Leary, 2008). Those benefits are enhanced when technology is used in a meaningful way in the projects, such as in our robotics, video game design, computer programming, and design/build after-school opportunities (PBL Research Summary, 2009). There is also ample evidence that PBL is an effective method for teaching students complex processes such as planning, communicating, problem solving, and decision making (Thomas, 2000). Ultimately, PBL has been shown to improve students’ mastery of 21st century skills (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992, Hmelo, 1998, Gallagher, Stepien and Rosenthal, 1992).