Posts Tagged ‘Project based learning’

Unity Middle School Students Launch a News Show

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Middle School, student post, Technology, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

by Veronika Dolak, Desiree White, Becky Donahue pic1

For our PBL (Project Based Learning) project, we thought of ways to improve the middle school. First, we made a survey for the middle school students and staff. The results came in and many people said that they wanted a middle school news show. We film the news on Wednesdays and Fridays. The news plays on a large tv in the middle school hallway on Mondays, Wednesdays,and Fridays. The news consist of 4 parts; upcoming events, birthdays, weather and lunch. The members of the PBL Group include Lizzie, Desiree, Venya, Shamaya, Becky, and Veronika.


Student & Teacher Reviews

“I think it’s very entertaining and the weather portion is very helpful.”

-Brynn Johnson

“The weather is a great addition to the Unity News! very helpful.”

-Sierra Gastelu

“I am very impressed with the production of the Unity News. The show elicits excitement from all of the students each morning and I look forward to seeing future episodes!”

– Lindsey, Social Studies & Project Based Learning teacher


The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Project Based Learning in the Middle School

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Education, Middle School

by Jillianne Steelman

This year, the Middle School transitioned from a Personalized Learning Plans to Project Based Learning. Project Based Learning (PBL) is a content driven guided inquiry leading to a culminating project. Personalized Learning Plans/Project Based Learning is outlined in the Unity Charter School Charter, meets the core standards for 21st century skills, and addresses standards in the content areas.

Teachers of Language Arts, Science and Social Studies each used their Core Content Standards to develop an overarching question around which they based their inquiry process. Each learning group has been afforded two periods a week to focus on Project Based Learning. In those ninety minutes a week, teachers have the opportunity to teach skill based mini lessons and content driven lessons as well as provide students with time to engage in individualized and group work which will eventually result in a culminating project.

The New Jersey Department of Education defines Project Based Learning as “a teacher-guided learning activity designed to assist students in understanding self as the curriculum/lesson relates to the following:

(1) Applying self as a learner to the situation;
(2) Framing questions;
(3) Tackling a project;
(4) Working as part of a team;
(5) Monitoring individual programs;
(6) Selecting a career; and
(7) Developing his/her skills and knowledge in order to be successful in a career choice.” (

This year, students will work with their learning group teachers to explore questions developed around content area. Students will have the opportunity to explore the following questions over the course of the year:

1. How can we communicate the greatness of our school community to our local community? (Teresa, Language Arts)
2. If you could choose to be a child in any historical period (that we are studying), which period would you choose and why? (Karen, Social Studies)
3. How can we market a healthy snack? (Marie, Science)
4. What impact does an invasive species have on an ecosystem? (Chris, Fifth Grade)

It is through the lens of the inquiry question that teachers create the skill based mini-lessons which create a framework of study students use to navigate the project. Nearly two months into school, projects are beginning to develop around the content-based inquiry questions. We are seeing amazing thinking beginning to develop such as:

-Developing a class blog highlighting the unique aspects of our school
-Imaging life as a 12 -year old in ancient Greece
-Creation of a healthy snack for Unity students and how to market it to them
-Determine how can we humanely build a trap and relocate an invasive species back to their natural environment

We hope you will join us at the celebrations of learning where we will present our culminating projects at the end of each trimester.