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Applications for Project Based Learning in Plymouth Schools being Accepted

December 11, 2012

12/12/12  Applications for project based learning programs at Plymouth High School, Washington Discovery Academy, Lincoln Junior High and Riverside Intermediate officially opened Monday morning at 8:30. The response has lead those connected with the programs to be optimistic.

Director of Communications at the Weidner School of Inquiry, Kelsey Flynn, said applications opened up on the corporation’s website at 8:30 a.m. and within 30 minutes, 40 students who will be freshman for the 2013-2014 school year had already signed up. By Tuesday, that number had increased to over 70. This is the first year that the “school within a school” has been in operation. The overall plan is to add approximately 100 students each year until a maximum of 400 or so students are enrolled.  Flynn said they have held open houses each Monday for the last four weeks. She said, “We had parents and students on panels to give information to prospective students and their families. She said, “We told them to be totally honest with their answers…. with both the successes and challenges.”

The Washington Discovery Academy also opened this year. Principal Andy Hartley said they have had a very positive response to applications. The school, which houses students from kindergarten to fourth grade, is the only facility out of the four elementary schools in the corporation to offer the project based learning style. According to Hartley, students already in the school along with those within the school district boundaries will be part of the first students enrolled for the next school year. He said other applications could go into a lottery type process is there are more applications than openings. Hartley said, “We will hopefully have three kindergarten sections.”

Two new programs will be added to the school corporation’s New Tech offerings. Both Riverside Intermediate and Lincoln Junior High will have New Tech programs for the 2013-2014 school year. Amy Gerard, who oversees technology for grades kindergarten thorough eighth, said, “We are asking parents (guardians) to apply in the grade that their child or children will be entering in August of 2013.” She said they have approximately 50 sign up so far in each of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. She said, “We are taking applications now so we can be prepared to meet the needs.”

Reid Gault, LJH principal, said they can take 108 in each 7th and 8th grade. He indicated that parts of the school are being renovated to accommodate the new program.  He said, “In the project based learning program, we will have Humanities which combines language arts and social studies. “ There will be math and science taught as well; however, students not in the program could be part of the high level math classes.

According to Gaul, LJH will be only one of three middle schools in the state to offer project based learning. He sad there are currently programs in one middle school in Indianapolis, one in Calumet and yet another in Columbus.

Gault said the program format is a student centered approach where students are encouraged to take more ownership in their own learning and is exploratory in nature. He said, “The projects will be relevant to what students are interested in.” He also emphasized that the 21st Century skills and Indiana academic standards will be taught. So far, seven of the eight teachers who will be in the project based center have received training and the eighth teacher is in training now. He said, “They all volunteered for positions.” There were five teachers who applied for the language arts position, but there was only one opening.

Gault encourages any parents or guardians who have questions about the program to contact LJH and ask to speak with him or Gerard.

Applications for all schools can be found on the Plymouth Community School Corporation’s website at www.plymouth. us under PBL on the home page. The applications will be live until December 21.

Carol Anders Correspondent

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