Yesterday marked the commencement of an exciting time for students and staff at Perth’s Rehoboth Christian College.
Project Week will see students presented with various problems relating to waste, from food, to plastic, water, and even e-waste. Each year group will encounter thought provoking settings to get them started.
Students will then follow a design process that takes them through six steps: define, discover, dream, design, deliver, and debrief.
One of Project Week’s team leaders is science teacher, Phil Taylor. He said each step represents a day in the project “week” and teachers will help guide and facilitate students through the process.
“Something that I think will be really exciting to explore is how students will respond to a week without timetabled classes or sirens,” Taylor told The Educator.
“It's going to be a very different learning environment for most of them and it will be interesting to see what works and what doesn't.”
The school’s curriculum coordinator, Shelly Vivian, said the idea for Project Week came about after her son told her about an initiative that his university had launched by the same name.
“My son said he didn’t have regular classes the next week because it was ‘Project Week’ I asked him what was the project, but it didn’t really appear that there was one in particular,” Vivian explained.
Vivian said this inspired the idea to kick-start project-based learning at the College.
The thought of the whole school working together to solve one driving question was very exciting, and when the idea was put forward, the leadership team eagerly took it on board.”
Vivian said one of the biggest ‘roadblocks’ to project-based Learning is having the courage to get started.
“It feels so new and scary to teachers and parents – usually the students are the ones without fear.
Vivian said the aim of this Project Week is to give all staff and students the experience of doing a project they can plan together, see how it might work and try a new approach but with some safe boundaries.
Challenging students to think creatively
Taylor said throughout the week, the school expects to see students challenged to think critically and creatively, to collaborate with each other, and with people outside of the school.
“We also expect to be surprised by what students achieve in the space of one week and are really excited to see what the final exhibition night holds,” he said.
To prepare staff for the upcoming Project Week there has been a lot of work in the background.
Various different activities and professional development days have been put on for staff to help develop a greater understanding of what project-based learning and ‘solution fluency’ is.
PD opportunities for educators
Sam Peletier, who runs the school’s Year 7 Endeavour Program, said Rehoboth’s middle school students are involved in research and preparing to implement project-based learning into the school’s yearly curriculum.
“This has involved several PD's with Mathilda Joubert from the Swan Christian Education Association to look at how other schools have implemented this into their program and how we can use project-based learning as a vehicle to teach the content required by the West Australian Curriculum,” he said.
“These PD's, as well as others, have helped us create the idea of project week as a taster of what true project-based learning is.”
Vivian said the ultimate aim is to see project-based Learning begin to be regularly used as a viable method in classes across the College and for teachers, students and families to grow in their commitment to learning together.
“We feel this helps us to honour God as we help our students to develop their God-given talents and abilities,” Vivian said.