Project Based Learning
The following is an excerpt from English instructor Trevor Rees's Fall 2019 Parents Weekend Convocation on project-based learning:
“With the greatest leader above them, the boys barely know one exists. The master teacher works without self-interest and leaves no trace. Project-based learning might not be as new as we think. Boys are excellent at it. It gives them ownership. "
I’m beta-testing a project in my AP Language class. Teams of our boys are designing and co-authoring “Compendiums of Rhetoric”, each mining a different lode of source material. One team is going to catalog the tools of language vis-à-vis Game of Thrones, another using professional sports, I can’t wait to see how they develop and flourish. Tryion Lannister is going to be a gold mine of persuasive language. I am going to be the principal investor, editor-in-chief, and publisher. In March I will anoint the best edition, in April we’re going to band together to polish it and self-publish it, and in May, we’re going to try to get you to buy it. All profits will go to our microwave disaster relief fund.
My hope, as the students are vaulted into overnight literary superstardom, is that they barely know I exist, and exclaim by June “we did it all by ourselves.” They can do it all by themselves, and learn more than they ever cared to know about anadiplosis in the process. Projects foster ownership, ownership creates agency, and agency deepens understanding. "
To view Trevor's full convocation speech click here
math and science: Designing and building roller coasters
Math instructor Trudy Pyznski’s Roller Coaster Design Project applies quadratic functions to the real-world. Algebra II students explore the time and distance required for an actual roller coaster to fall from its tallest hill. Students use this activity as a guide to design their own rollercoaster. In the honors level class, they extend the unit and apply their knowledge of polynomials functions as well.
humanities: Constructing ancient Greek city-states
As a part of their trimester-long study of ancient Greece, the three sections of Ancient History tackle the creation of their own ancient Greek city-states.
Students base their city-states on research and reports they do on real places (Samos, Corinth, and Argos) ca. 430 BCE. The culmination includes “Thucydides Day,” including a virtual tour through each class’s city-state, built entirely in Minecraft, and a council meeting inspired by “Model UN,” where our three city-states wcome together to address a common threat in our region (modeled after the events of the Peloponnesian War).
history: HUMAN MIGRATION
Over the past several years, History Department Chair Chris Russell has sought to finetune Salisbury’s approach to teaching history. He emphasizes asking the critical questions first; where do we want to go and how do we get there? Beginning with the desired skills and goals of each particular lesson, he forges a path for his classes to get there.
This trimester, the entire history department shared the theme of human migration studied over different time periods and parts of the world. Our boys researched their own family-history of migration, and connected experiences within history to their own stories. During our winter project-based evaluation, students had the opportunity to present and share tales of migration.
Sebastian Port '22 created an entire Human Migration website to support his work, and several of our Knights showcased their studies in other meaningful ways. To view their projects, and read more about our unique approach to teaching history at Salisbury School, see our Winter 2020 Online Magazine.
public speaking: product pitch
In Tom Severo’s Public Speaking class, students invent a product and deliver a pitch for it in which they must utilize multimedia, have customer testimonials, and implement a variety of techniques aimed at "speaking to the elephant, not the rider." This references a concept they discuss in class that essentially states how human beings are emotional decision makers, who only later recruit their reasoning to justify their initial gut feelings.
Each trimester students can choose a videography, digital photography or graphic design course. In addition to these formal offerings, our Media Lab students join forces with fellow students for cross-curricular projects that combine learning experiences from a variety of classes and activities such as music and mountain biking!
Students explore the esthetics and mechanics of contemporary digital photography including use of a camera as well as their phones and their various applications.
Students are introduced to the DSLR camera and the many modes of shooting film as well as becoming fluent in Adobe Photoshop, learning how to catalog, archive and print their work for exhibition.
Students learn the latest technologies and processes of digital video production including field and studio camera operation, sound, lighting, project planning and more! Our Graphic Design course provides students the opportunity to learn and apply techniques and theories that communicate a visual message. Students develop competency in computer illustration, layout, color, editing, typography and printing.
The Economics Department benefits from a multi-disciplinary approach to the discipline, as well as a commitment to the depth of experiential learning that comes from applying economic theory. Students, typically in the upper forms, may choose to pursue a program oriented around the capital markets by studying economics and personal finance, or may apply to participate in the Entrepreneurial Studies Program, a three-course program oriented around the theory and practice of building an organization around a novel concept. Embedded in this program is a college-level economics course designed to better prepare students for further study of the discipline. Student experience in the department centers on our belief that boys best learn by doing. The theories of personal finance are cemented through an annual mock portfolio competition and an active investment club on campus overseen by the Economics faculty. The theories of supply and demand find real meaning in the student demand schedules created by the Student Agencies operating on campus (see the Entrepreneurial Studies Overview). Every student in Entrepreneurial Studies creates, develops, and defends to the school administration, a real business plan, seeking approval and seed funding from the School. Many go on to put their plans into action as Independent Study projects in their sixth form year.