Project Based Learning
Creating and presenting projects is an integral part of the Arcadia learning experience and is about half of students’ academic time. Students develop problem solving, critical thinking, planning, communication, and independent learning skills through the project process. They also learn to collaborate with advisors, mentors, outside experts, and peers.
The combination of core classes and projects inspires students to become life-long learners, allows them to create personalized challenges, and lays the foundation for successful experiences after Arcadia.
In the Arcadia middle school, students do one structured project each quarter, related to the quarterly theme. Themes, such as “cycles,” “middle ages,” and “flight” are woven throughout the middle school curriculum and examined through multiple lenses.
Students are guided through the stages of the project process, including choosing a topic, finding resources, taking and organizing notes, and demonstrating learning.
The culmination of a student’s research, synthesis of information, and entire project is a presentation, given to the student’s classmates and advisors. Examples of presentation media include papers, PowerPoint presentations, models, computer programs, websites and art pieces.
In the Arcadia high school, students are given more responsibility and control over their projects, and their learning in general. High school students have more freedom to choose how they mix classes and projects to achieve graduation requirements. Projects are also more student driven, with no set schedule, a focus on student initiation and responsibility to make and meet deadlines, and creative presentations expected.
Two core parts of the Arcadia high school experience are the Junior and Senior Project. The Junior Project focuses on learning real life skills and planning for the future. Students learn about budgeting, credit, and financial management. Additionally, they create rough life plans, researching possible college and/or career options, housing, and how to plan for retirement.
The Senior Project is the culmination of the project based curriculum. Seniors chose a topic they are truly passionate about, and often one that let’s them explore career-adjacent interests. This topic is then turned into a year-long project. Seniors work with mentors in their chosen topic area to do in-depth research and have related experiences.
In the spring seniors have the opportunity to practice their presentations during Presentation Day in front of the middle school students. And middle schoolers get a chance to see what a high quality high school presentation looks like. Then seniors present to friends and family during Presentation Night. Not only do seniors develop strong research skills, but they hone their public speaking and presentation skills as well.