Project Based Learning at Washington


Kaden Fields, ’21, and Lucci O’Donnell, ’21, work on a ‘Show ‘Em Love’ fundraiser poster. Photo by Abby Throndson

Abby Throndson, Staff Reporter

Advanced Language Arts 9 teacher, Carrie Tinkham is incorporating project based learning into her classes. Project based learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students work on a long-term project to learn about, and practice research and presentation skills.

The students come up with their own projects, mostly working in groups, they decide a topic then take off with research and ideas. “Right now we’re working on a Puerto Rico fundraiser,” said Kaden Fields, ‘21.

Fields and a group of other students are working on the ‘Show ‘Em Love’ fundraiser, where they are collecting money in students’ sixth hour classes.

Emma Sorg, ‘21, is also working on this fundraiser. “I like that it (PBL) is different from anything I’ve done in LA before,” Sorg said.

Both Fields and Sorg have said that they enjoy the PBL days.

The way Tinkham’s class works is that there are PBL days and normal days. The class does most of the same things the other Advanced LA 9 classes do, but on days they don’t, it’s time for PBL. “I just decided to do it,” said Tinkham. “I read a lot of books and articles about it and how to do it, and wanted to try it out.”

As for administrative approval, Principal John Cline has put his support behind the teaching method. “She has worked tirelessly to incorporate PBL the way that it should be done,” said Cline. “All of her talents, coupled with her care for her students, have helped her be successful in making PBL work.”

One disadvantage of PBL is that it can be difficult for students to switch to PBL after having a conventional education for most of their life. “I feel like I actually learn things in a conventional class,” said Elise Fashimpaur, ‘21.

Fashimpaur is one of Tinkham’s students that prefer conventional learning over PBL.

Overall the students in the class are split in two, there are quite a few of the students enjoy PBL days, but there are an equal amount of students who aren’t as excited about it. It is unclear if this method will continue and spread to other classes, or if teachers will stick to a more traditional approach.