Simon Youth Foundation teachers turn classroom expansion into learning opportunity
Shakespeare said that “joy’s soul lies in the doing,” and if that is true, there will be much joy among the students at the Simon Youth Rose Tree Media Academy at Granite Run Mall in Media, PA, this semester.
Under a new instructional approach being used by the academy’s teaching team, including administrator Eleanor DiMarino-Linnen, the students are developing an in-depth business, architectural and operations plan for a new 400 square foot classroom that the school is adding to its existing learning space.
“Project Based Learning is an instructional approach that emphasizes skill development, and students learn by doing rather than simply reading, listening or memorizing,” DiMarino-Linnen says.
|Teachers and students at Simon Youth
Rose Tree Media Academy are ready to renovate
a new classroom with Project Based Learning
For the classroom expansion project, students will develop a plan to turn the space into an art-therapy classroom. DiMarino-Linnen says that students are required by the state to complete two and a half hours of counseling each week, and art therapy is means to meet this requirement by letting students express themselves through art.
“We have split our students up in two working groups of 14 students each, and both are developing unique plans for the space,” DiMarino-Linnen says.
The students will work with a local architect on some of the design elements, and they’ll have to complete detailed business proposals by the end of the semester before being graded on the oral presentation of those proposals. Completing the course, or project in this case, will earn students one full credit toward graduation.
“The students will be learning professional skills when they do things like price out supplies and manage the construction budget, and I also am excited to see how they work together in groups.
“In almost any profession, some degree of team work is required to move a project along successfully, and to gain that experience now as high school students will put our students a step ahead,” DiMarino-Linnen says.
The academy, which is supported by Simon Youth Foundation in partnership with the local Rose Tree Media School District, was able to activate its Project Based Learning program, including the acquisition of required collateral, with the help of a $2,000 enhancement grant from SYF awarded in the spring of 2011.
“Our annual enhancement grant program is another way for the Foundation to make a difference in the lives of the students in our national network of Simon Youth Academies, and I am very happy that the Rose Tree Media Academy has been able to implement this new learning approach so quickly,” says J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D., the President and CEO of SYF.