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Da Vinci Academy Core Curriculum: Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a comprehensive instructional approach to engage students in sustained, cooperative investigation (Bransford & Stein, 1993).

Within its framework students collaborate, working together to make sense of what is going on. Project-based instruction differs from inquiry-based activity — an activity most of us have experienced during our own schooling by its emphasis on cooperative learning. Inquiry is traditionally thought of as an individually done, somewhat isolated activity. Additionally, project-based instruction differs from traditional inquiry by its emphasis on students’ artifact construction to represent what is being learned.

Students pursue solutions to nontrivial problems by

  • asking and refining questions
  • debating ideas
  • making predictions
  • designing plans and/or experiments
  • collecting and analyzing data
  • drawing conclusions
  • communicating their ideas and findings to others
  • asking new questions
  • creating artifacts (Blumenfeld et al., 1991).

There are two essential components of projects:

  1. A driving question or problem that serves to organize and drive activities, which taken as a whole amount to a meaningful project
  2. Culminating product(s) or multiple representations as a series of artifacts, personal communication (Krajcik), or consequential task that meaningfully addresses the driving question. (Brown & Campione,1994).

Da Vinci Elementary scholars engage in a wide variety of academic activities throughout the day that incorporates centers-based learning, personalized learning, project-based learning, and student choice. We design a program around the students’ individual learning styles and academic goals.


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