Have you heard of Meliora? It is a project-based learning (PBL) initiative 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 defined framework. Students develop not only content knowledge, but also critical thinking, analytical, technology, research, collaboration, creativity, communication and project management skills.
We have conducted social studies courses under the Meliora banner since 2011. We have had State finishers for the National History Day competition five different years, and have also had four student projects advance to the National competition. Students have been recognized a number of times at the Chicago Metro level with special awards and cash prizes. The course description for the upcoming 2020-2021 course, How Has Communication Created and Evolved the American Nation? is found here.
Literature and Storytelling
This is the fifth year we are offering a Literature and Storytelling course. Students often enter the course lacking confidence in their writing skills and end the year having completed stories of 30-50 pages in length. We use a writers workshop approach, helping students find their own voice, including using alternative forms of storytelling, such as graphic and video formats. The 2020-2021 course is entitled Whose story is it anyway? and the description is found here.
General Overview and Methodology
We offer both a junior and senior level for each of our courses. Students ages 12-14 will enter the junior course, and those aged 14-18 will enter the senior level. 14-year-old students may enroll at either level.
PBL is a methodology that is effective for all learners, as it allows for a great diversity of methods and tools to be used in project development. Since it is a process-centered approach, students learn to plan their work and to assess their own progress. Peer and facilitator (teacher) assessment is also incorporated into the process and students receive periodic formative feedback on their progress. PBL is also iterative in nature, meaning students make numerous revisions and improvements to their product before calling it “done.”
As part of the process, Meliora students are given a lot of choice and a strong voice in how they present their evidence of learning. Formats available to them include (and are not limited to) website, documentary, spoken-word poetry, comic book, timeline, dramatic production, and traditional written thesis or story.
Reflection is also a part of the process, as 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. Students’ final assessment consists of a combination of the product they create and their public presentation, during which they further substantiate their depth of understanding.
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 contact us at email@example.com for further information.