Meliora – Project-Based Learning in the Humanities

Meliora is a project-based learning (PBL) practice that offers humanities courses for secondary (ages 12-18) students. PBL is a student- and interest-centered methodology that provides opportunities for students to investigate topics of their own choosing within a structured framework. Students develop not only content knowledge, but also critical thinking, analytical, technology, research, collaboration, creativity, communication and project management skills.

Social Studies

We have conducted social studies courses under the Meliora banner since 2011. We have had State finishers for the National History Day competition most years, and have also had five student projects advance to the National competition. Students have also been recognized a number of times at the Chicago Metro level with special awards and cash prizes. The course description for the 2023-2024 Turning Points in Ancient History course is found here.

Literature and Storytelling

Students often enter Meliora’s literature and storytelling courses lacking confidence in both their literary and writing skills and end the year leading Socratic literary discussions and producing stories of 20-50 pages in length. We use variations of peer-led literature circles to discuss our reading. To help students develop their storytelling skills and find their own voice, we use a writers workshop approach, incorporating no- and low-stake assignments. Students are also invited to explore alternative forms of storytelling, such as graphic novels, spoken word poetry, and video formats. The 2023-2024 World Mythologies course description is found here.

General Overview and Methodology

Meliora courses are conducted in a multi-aged classroom comprised of students between the ages of 12 and 18. We use a process-based ecosystem called project-based learning (PBL) to guide students through their learning. It is effective for all learners, as it allows for a great diversity of methods and tools to be used throughout the process. As students advance through the process, they learn to plan and manage their work and to assess their own progress. Peers and the facilitator (teacher) also provide periodic  feedback on students’ progress using structured protocols to identify both strengths and areas for improvement. Fundamental to the process is the expectation that students will refine their work by developing multiple iterations of prototypes/drafts. This serves to deepen their understanding and to maximize the quality of the artifacts they produce.

Meliora students are given considerable choice and a strong voice in shaping the artifacts they create. Formats available to them include (and are not limited to) website, documentary, spoken-word poetry, comic book, timeline, dramatic production, podcast, and traditional written thesis or story.

Reflection is also integral to the PBL process, helping students develop deeper metacognition. They reflect on their own learning and process; the whole class reflects on the project and the facilitator’s effectiveness; and the facilitator reflects on the project framework and implementation and ways they could be improved.

Finally, students present their work to a public audience. This includes a brick-and-mortar showcase (if feasible), and may also include the use of social media and other virtual forms of exposition. Final assessments consist of an evaluation of both the students’ artifacts and their presentation and interaction with the audience.

We are very proud of the effort, energy and cognition our students put into developing “beautiful work,” and wonder if you have a tween/teen student(s) who is interested in joining us in the fall? Please refer to our FAQ page for more information, and contact Charlene at with any additional questions.

July 9, 2020

So I auditioned for a play a day ago! Pretty cool I’ve never been in one. I have been in the pit orchestra twice though.

Also I took a selfie stick, unscrewed the top phone holder top and I’m learning how to do lightsaber spins! I started yesterday and I learned to do a spinning sequence pretty well.

July 5, 2020

Technically I’m writing this July 6th (it’s 2 in the morning)

Today was really really fun!! I went to a drive in theater and saw both Jaws and Jurassic Park on the big screen! The last time I have been to a drive in theater I was maybe 4 years old seeing Pirates of the Caribbean.

July 2nd, 2020

I was kinda bored so I made my own language for fun! It’s still not complete yet I might change some things about it. Btw in the picture the vowels are only used inside of words, so like my name is Marilyn and you wouldn’t use the letter ‘a’ you would use the vowel ‘a’

However if your name is Adom for instance you would use the ‘a’letter.


Went to the store to get some marshmallows for Fourth of July! We are going to bake some graham crackers and get some chocolate to make s’mores. Sadly out towns fireworks won’t be happening but it will still be fun!

June 29, 2020

Today I have my last piano lesson before I go on my summer break. Also I have to watch another lecture on children’s literature. (Not sure if I’d mentioned that lol)

Yesterday I was playing a survival world on Minecraft and went to the nether, and somehow something caught on fire and burned half my house down😂 so that’s that,.

My mom and I are going to make some chocolate covered strawberries today! Haven’t had those in ages!

June 27, 2020

Watched Revenge of the Sith last night, really really sad movie but Obi Wan’s “hello there” and “It’s over Anikan! I have the high ground!” Makes it better😂

Biked down to Geneva and got some ice cream with my Dad!! Also my school break starts in a few days so I’m exited for pure boredom to come.

June 19 (technically 20) 2020

Today is a really important day in Black History! It’s the freedom of slaves in 1865. It’s really crazy to think about, that 1865 wasn’t a long time ago. It’s very disturbing that racism and other forms of human discrimination still happen every day,

Happy June 19th!!

I have been watching the Star Wars Prequels the past week after a long time! Just watched the 2nd one Attack of the Clones. I love how when Anikan (hope I spelled that right😂) gets angry there is the slight musical motif of Darth Vader’s theme to foreshadow his future with the dark side,

Also, Yoda was kicking butt in that movie!!