Project Based Learning to the Extreme: Part 1

Perhaps you’ve always envisioned doing a large scale, school-wide project with other colleagues and students, but the process seemed daunting and unrealistic. Today, in Part 1 of a two part series, I want to tell you about how our school came together to take project based learning to the ‘extreme’ and create an unforgettable and ‘real world’ applicable project very ‘large’ in scale, in a variety of ways.

Professional Learning Communities, also known as PLC’s, is something our school district switched to a few years ago.  Our students get out on Wednesday’s at 2:09 pm and we as professionals have a chance to meet with each other.

This year two new things happened during our PLCs that made a collaborative project possible: 

1)    We were given the choice to choose between various ideas that would all lead to a more student-centered classroom district wide.  One of our first professional development days back in August, we were able to explore different options in which we would work on alternate our PLC groups. I chose project based learning, or PBL to devote the year to.

2)      We were given a schedule! Yes, who in education doesn’t love a schedule?  This schedule allows us time to alternate between meeting in our Project Based Learning Group and also receive K-12 group PD on alternate meeting days. It’s can get a little confusing, so it was great to know time would be carved out for our team to devote to this large project we had up our sleeve, and it wouldn’t necessarily have to come outside of contract time (everyone loves that!).

Here is the good stuff!

My small PBL (Project Based Learning) group consisted of  5 teachers in the following content areas: Art (me), Special Education, Math, Family Consumer Science, and Gateway to Technology.  After putting our heads together, we decided we would have students design, find funding for, and help build a piece of public of art for our building! What an amazing and real-life experience for our students to connect all subject areas together through the arts.  Our math teacher suggested this project last the entire year and would consist of three phases, which I will talk more about tomorrow in Project Based Learning to the Extreme Part 2.

We decided to call this project “Geometric Sculpture” as it combines geometry with public art.

Why Public Art?

Our community is very supportive of Public Art, as we have a native sculptor, Jerry Cowger, who displays his work all around town.  We contacted the city and they were very supportive of this project and even talked about continuing it with us in the future by using various flood lots to display art!

This would be a great project for high school students to partner with your welding or shop class to create a piece of public work for your own school or community! I hope today you got a big picture view of our vision for this project.  Please stop back tomorrow for more details on how we carried out this LARGE and extended project.

Has anyone attempted a project this large in scale? Tell us about it! 

Are you using Project Based Learning model at your school? 

Chelsie Meyer

This article was written by former AOE writer and technology guru Chelsie Meyer.


  • Thanks, Chelsie! Making it clear, practical and exciting opens real possibilities for teachers and their students….looking forward to part 2 ;->

  • Steve Kwikkel

    As their principal, I couldn’t be prouder! There is no way to capture the passion and raw emotion(s) that went into this project. Oh if the walls could talk! Now that phase 1 is in the books, wait until you see what’s coming!

    • Thanks, Steve! I am continually impressed with the things I see coming out of your school system. Especially your art teacher :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks Steve for the continually support! It makes projects like these so much eaiser!