Campbelltown Performing Arts High School (CPAHS) is driving transdisciplinary PBL that promotes positive and sustainable community engagement.
The school has been implementing PBL for a number of years, with Kirstine Gonano being directly involved for the past four. She believes the successful implementation of PBL at CPAHS can be put down to strong leadership, established community partnerships, and a strong culture of evaluation. Kirstine shares information about CPAHS’s recent PBL project, ‘Rejuvenating Ingleburn Reserve’.
Rejuvenating Ingleburn Reserve
- Target Subject/s: English, TAS and Science
- Target Year level: Year 8
- Driving Question: How can we, as students, promote positive and sustainable community engagement with a local reserve?
- Key Outcomes:
- English: EN4-3B A student uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts
- English: EN4-5C A student thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts
- Science: SC4-5WS A student collaboratively and individually produces a plan to investigate questions and problems
- TAS 4.2.1 A student generates and communicates creative design ideas and solutions
- TAS 4.2.2 A student selects, analyses, presents and applies research and experimentation from a variety of sources
This project involved Year 8 students working with Campbelltown City Council to redesign a local parkland area and promote positive community engagement with the area. Students visited the reserve and conducted a site study with the support of council experts. They identified particular areas of the reserve that they wanted to improve and created products or services to promote community engagement with the area. This included bush tucker gardens, community facilities, Indigenous railings, signage and redesign of playground equipment and outdoor learning areas.
In groups, students pitched their ideas to council experts and drew on the expertise of other businesses to inform the design of their final product. The students then held an exhibition where they shared their ideas which were then included as part of Campbelltown City Council’s Plan of Management to redesign the reserve.
Aligning with key elements of Project Based Learning
- Student driven – After their initial observations, students were required to identify the area of the reserve they wanted to focus on. This ensured that they were working on an area of interest to design a product they considered to be viable and relevant. They undertook work that “mattered” to them.
- Collaborative – Students were required to work in groups. Roles were allocated that were relevant to the design of the task. Students were also required to give each other feedback on their participation and contribution as a member of the group. Groups also provided feedback to other groups to ensure that work was of the highest possible standard and to draw on the collective ideas and knowledge of the class as a whole.
- Multifaceted Assessment – In addition to presenting the final product at exhibition, students were required provide critique to each other throughout the process. At the conclusion of the task they were required to self-assess the product against the marking criteria prior to submission.
- Real World Connection – Students were connected in authentic ways with Campbelltown City Council to co-create the plan of management. They communicated regularly with council staff to obtain information including past plans of management, topographic maps and playground equipment designs from engineers. Their designs were informed by authentic documents and expertise of people in the field. Their final products were then included as part of the council’s plan of management for the reserve.
Student products have been included as part of the plan of management for Ingleburn Reserve which will inform council’s planning for the redevelopment of the site.
Students indicated increased levels of engagement and willingness to continue Project Based Learning activities following the designated “end date” for this project. Analysis of student work samples indicated a deep understanding of issues pertaining to environmental sustainability as well as improvement in a range of skills and learning dispositions.
Teacher feedback indicated improved student engagement and student projects demonstrated improved levels of creative and critical thinking to create and design new products, as well as significantly increased understanding of environmental issues.
By Kirstine Gonano. Kirstine Gonano is Deputy Principal and English/History teacher at Campbelltown Performing Arts High School.