by: Emily Hirshorn
This summer, Belmont Charter School, host of one of the city’s largest OST programs, tried something new. Recognizing the educational and motivational benefits of Project-Based Learning (PBL), the OST program joined forces with the summer school staff to offer an engaging and rewarding experience for even the most reluctant learners.
Traditionally, summer school is only offered to students who are in danger of failing an academic subject, but with PBL, Belmont Charter was able to offer an enriching educational experience for students of any skill level. “I loved having a mix of high and low performing students in summer school. My struggling students were inspired to work harder,” said Jill Lesser, a 1st grade teacher who worked with her students this summer to create a museum about penguins.
PBL projects at Belmont ranged from making a kid-friendly tourist brochure about Philadelphia to running a school store. Some students made educational books for students in Haiti, while others developed their own superheroes and comic books. All groups enhanced their learning by utilizing resources outside of the classroom, including the library, local businesses, guest speakers, public transportation, and Philadelphia landmarks.
“The best part was seeing the pride the students took in their accomplishments,” commented Greg Glasheen, 3rd grade teacher. His sentiments are shared by the Belmont Charter community as a whole. Belmont and OST will definitely follow this model again next summer!