Project-Based Learning
Micro School 
Pilot Program
FCC offered a 3-year project-based learning micro school from 2014-2017.  This included individualized learning plans to incorporate student interests, giving students voice and choice.  Students engaged in interdisciplinary project-based learning, with daily sessions incorporating social-emotional learning, authentic assessments and community-based learning.  The micro school used both indoor and outdoor classrooms, with local experts served as mentors. This served as a pilot program for the XQ Super School model put forth by our team.  Lori is now serving as an Innovation Coach and Educational Consultant with the goal of bringing this type of learning to schools nationwide.

What transpired over a three-month period is an excellent example of the power of student-centered learning coupled with a project-based learning curriculum.  This organic project arose during the first week of school.  Students were sharing interests, and had an idea to build a model city.  After gathering recycled and reusable materials, students spent time collaborating on the plan, design, and construction of the city.  They negotiated use of materials, and researched city guides and needs of communities.  They interviewed city officials, and wrote about the meaning of the word community.  They visited The Museum of Science to explore models, toured Saugus Iron Works to learn about the first iron-makers in the US, and turned to experts such as James Rojas to learn more about making model cities.  In order to add a building to the city, students had to submit a building permit and get approval from the “building inspector”.  Eco-friendly living was taken into consideration, with solar energy and even saltwater-powered cars.  A replica of the model city was designed collaboratively on the Raspberry Pi, and novel study was based on a story involving the creation of an innovative building.  We even Skyped with individuals residing in Greece to compare architectural design there compared to the US. Soon students had the idea to include an outer space element to the model city, building a model solar system above the city.  They added a space station to the model city, and the idea was born: design a rocket and have an actual launch!  The model city project and the ensuing rocket project provided opportunities to incorporate math, language arts, science, history and social skills while simultaneously embracing the interests and talents of many students.  For the rocket project, we visited an expert in the field of robotics and circuitry.  Here, some students focused on rocket and launch box design on Tinkercad (eventually printing both using a 3D printer).  Others worked on circuitry.  iPad App design and the making of parachutes made for engaging challenges for our artistically-minded students.  The end result: authentic cross-curricular learning, creation of a model city, and actual rocket launches!

Learning is both cognitive and emotional. Teachers should strive to challenge each student academically, and also work to increase each student's emotional agility.  When students are presented with real-world experiences, they are able to develop deeper meaning in curriculum which leads to higher retention. Global connections nurture altruistic identities, instilling a foundation for caring behaviors and life skills.