Through Project-Based Learning, Elementary and Middle School students at Congreso de Latinos Unidos are getting an early taste of the college experience. OST students learn life skills and academic content at North Star University, Congreso’s new approach to afterschool programming.
At North Star University, students choose a major – media studies, business, art or fashion – and study the topic three days a week. This element of student choice reflects PBL’s emphasis on student-directed, independent learning.
In Beats, Rhymes, Life, the media studies course, students analyzed lyrics by their favorite musical artists, studied the parts of a song, and ultimately recorded their own tracks. Along the way students completed hands-on engaging activities, and used the foundational skills they acquired to produce their culminating product. Likewise, in Art Expressions, students explored murals and graffiti art throughout the City of Philadelphia, before ultimately creating art projects of their own.
Students also chose anthropology, athletics, dance or event planning as a minor. Dance students have learned hip-hop, latin and African dance styles, and will perform at the Kimmel Center at the end of the year. Event planning students use their skills to host Friday events for other Congreso students.
In Project-Based Learning, students are encouraged to follow individualized learning paths, so that they can pursue their own interests in the context of a project. However, it can often be difficult to integrate diverse learning goals into one cohesive project. By creating North Star University, Congreso staff members have developed a project that is true to the PBL model, while also permitting student exploration and discovery.