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.