Project-Based Learning

The Core Tenets of Project-Based Learning at Downtown High School

Challenging academics

All projects will provide students of all abilities with an academically rigorous, high school level curriculum.

    1. Curriculum is accessible to all students.
    2. Students at all skill levels are challenged to improve and develop their academic skill set.
    3. Content and performance standards are addressed through the project curriculum.


All projects, through teacher partnerships, will develop and deliver thematic, interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum.

    1. The central theme of the project allows for interdisciplinary curriculum.
    2. The project integrates instruction in multiple subject areas.
    3. Teachers work collaboratively in teams to integrate the subject matter delivered in each classroom.

Applied Learning

All projects will require students to apply content and skills they have learned and mastered to the creation of a final product and exhibition.

    1. Students apply the knowledge they are learning to the ongoing creation of a related product.
    2. Students present what they have learned and exhibit what they have created in a public forum.
    3. The project offers students opportunities to develop meaningful skills that can be used outside of the classroom.

Experiential Study

All projects will utilize field studies and hands-on lessons to enrich and deepen student learning and engagement.

    1. Field-based activities are integrated into learning experiences.
    2. Students participate in engaging hands-on activities.
    3. Students develop ownership of their final products and project curriculum by taking responsibility for contributing during the process.

Real world focus

All projects will engage students in collaboration with real audiences such as peers, community-based organizations, and experts in project-related fields.

    1. The project’s theme and product are meaningful to students.
    2. Students experience connections between the content of the project and the “real world”—in the community or at work.
    3. Students communicate with one another and work collaboratively in diverse teams.
    4. Students have access to at least one adult outside of the classroom with expertise and experience relevant to their project, who can address questions, provide feedback, and offer a sense of real-world standards for the type of work arising from the project.

Authentic Assessment

All projects will use a variety of assessment tools to inform students of their progress as well as to inform teaching practice.

    1. Students are assessed with a variety of methods based on their individual skill levels.
    2. Students receive ongoing feedback on work in progress from teachers, mentors and peers.
    3. Specific criteria are established for measuring student growth in mastering the knowledge and applied learning goals of the project.
    4. Students are involved in reviewing and/or helping to establish project criteria, and participate in related self-assessment.