How projects help students learn more deeply

How projects help students learn more deeply

Dear Sierra Families,

Earlier this month, we celebrated Back to School Night, where the Summit Sierra community got to know one another and share what to expect this year. We are thankful for the opportunity to connect and discuss the important work ahead of us. During Back to School, we shared more about our dedication to project-based learning and how it will help your student develop, refine and improve their interdisciplinary, higher-order thinking – or cognitive – skills. At Summit we refer to these as the 36 Universal Skills.

When looking at your student’s daily schedule, you’ll see blocks of time dedicated to projects in core subjects like English, Math, History, and Science. These blocks underscore the significance of how project time, and the learning science behind it, prepares students both in and beyond the classroom. Research shows that hands on learning through real world problem solving, using strategies that drive students to ask questions and dig deeper until they find solutions has a profound learning impact. So that is how Summit students spend the majority of their time. When students are engaged in project time, they are actively learning content and the higher level skills that will set them up for success in life.

Students truly develop universal skills best when they are practiced in multiple contexts and across disciplines. For example, in a more traditional physics classroom, students learn the formula for motion through a lecture and apply it in a word problem. In a project-based learning classroom, students might be instructed to create a launching apparatus. They still learn the formula for motion, but they then apply that formula to get their mechanism to hit a target and attain a deeper understanding of the how and the why at the heart of these big ideas.

One way to tell that students are developing these critical skills is when they demonstrate that they can “transfer” an idea or concept learned in one context and apply it to a new setting. Educational experiences like Summit projects, that require students to take an active role in their own learning and that emphasize communication and an awareness of their own thought processes, are proven to develop this skill.

Our projects and the school time dedicated to them are designed with all of this learning science in mind to make sure they have all the elements needed to help students achieve. Every chunk of time in a Summit student’s day is designed to foster student success by maximizing the amount of time students spend learning content and mastering skills. This will enable them to not only succeed in class, but to become lifelong learners ready to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Thank you.
Ayanna, Aubree, Dan, and Stefan

Nondiscrimination Statement

Summit Public Schools does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination:

The Compliance Coordinator, Title IX Officer, and Section 504/ADA Coordinator for Summit – Sierra is: Executive Director, 1025 S. King Street, Seattle, WA, 98104, (phone) 206-999-9196, (email)

If you believe that you or your child has experienced unlawful discrimination or discriminatory harassment at school based on any protected class, you have the right to file a formal complaint. Before filing a formal complaint, you may wish to discuss your concerns with the Compliance Coordinator of your site. This is often the fastest way to resolve your concerns.