Barrie Prep
Grades 6-12

Why Project Based Learning?



Building upon the Montessori philosophy of ‘follow the child’, we believe each student brings his or her own strengths, passions, and voice to the educational process.

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  • PBL makes school more active and more engaging. Students report that school is boring and meaningless but with projects school is more active, it is more participatory, and it provides real-world learning experiences.
  • PBL improves learning. After completing a project, students understand content more deeply, remember what they learn, and are more likely to retain it longer than with traditional instruction.
  • PBL builds 21st century success skills. Students learn through projects how to take initiative and responsibility, build their self-confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.

Examples of PBL at Barrie

Barrie Prep students learn through carefully planned project-based learning experiences and interactions with the natural environment on our forty-five acre campus.

Boat Races

The seminal project of the eighth grade year is to create a boat out of cardboard and race it against other teams in our school pool. Students learn about buoyancy, engineering, and various other construction methods.

Election Project

This project was designed to introduce students in grades nine and eleven to the political issues relevant in the 2016 general election. To that end, each was required to join a political party, either the Democrats, the Greens, the Libertarians, or the Republicans. Students then chose a domestic issue and an international issue and researched their party's stance and that of other groups. They summarized their issues with the other members of Prep in mind. In other words, could they explain the issues to other students? Finally, students held a formal election debate between the four parties in front of the entire school as part of an assembly.

Jamestown Project

Students examine the central question of why the settlers at Jamestown resorted to cannibalism. Using science, history, and math, students determine the amount of food needed for specific numbers of people, research what actually happened at Jamestown, and garden as if they were settling in the New World. Visits to nearby farms, the Audobon Naturalist Society, and other related organizations are included and the project culminates with an assembly in which students share the food they have gardened and discuss the results of their research.

Poetry Slam

An Eighth grade tradition, Poetry Slam is a true celebration of student voice. All performed poetry is original student work, and many students choose edgy, difficult, personal topics. During a two-month long writing process, students focus on the genre of spoken-word poetry, writing, editing, and refining their pieces. Students grapple with word choice and poetic language such as metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, imagery, and alliteration. They come to understand how each of these poetic elements helps communicate a message and an impact to an audience. In the late spring, students perform their poems in front of the entire school community and learn in-depth about vocalization, body language, pace, volume, articulation, intonation, and storytelling.

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