North Dakota students are looking toward careers earlier and earlier, as teachers are allowing more freedom in letting students study what they want.
KX News visited Simle Middle School during parent-teacher night, to find out how this new approach is working.
Simle Middle School started using Project Based Learning Standards just last year.
Teachers told us it’s all about giving students real-world experience in the classroom. And taking what they’re learning, and applying it to something they will likely use one day.
With many of these projects, students are given a scenario and then tasked with creating a solution.
In a Simle Technology and Engineering class, students are able to build solutions. They’re proud to share their accomplishments, and take a break from textbooks.
Eighth Grader Jake Johnson is interested in architecture as a future career. He presented a model house he designed that can absorb the shock of an earthquake.
Johnson explains, “It’s good to learn from the books, and then take that which you learned from the books and just use it, and make a project that you have freedom on.”
Jake’s mother Renae Sisk adds, “My two oldest are in college now, so it’s definitely different and I think it’s a good thing to allow their creativity like this.”
Many of the projects are also meant to teach practical skills, like time and money management.
Eighth Grade teacher Jennifer Zacher says her students were hesitant at first, but once they got going, it was full steam ahead.
The English Teacher explains, “Our students had to design a trip, so they acted as a travel agent. And they had to come up with flight dates, they had to come up with a hotel, they were given a budget they had to work within. Yeah, they really enjoyed it, and it provided them with a look at how much things do cost, and how do I work within a budget.”
Zacher told us after they finished the travel agent project, her students all wanted to book a trip somewhere.