What Is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is the curricular core of Avalon. With PBL, students literally design their own education as they brainstorm, design, and execute independent, student-initiated projects. With guidance from advisors, PBL allows students to engage deeply in their study while learning independence and self-direction.

PBL and Avalon

At Avalon, Project-Based Learning has replaced conventionally structured classes and grade levels. We feature a curriculum built around individualized learning plans, student-initiated projects, small student-centered seminars, public presentations, and multidisciplinary senior thesis projects. Finally, the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) enables Avalon students to pursue college level courses and credit through enrollment in local colleges and universities. 

The most distinctive feature of Avalon is the lack of traditional classes and grade levels. Instead of giving students a class schedule to follow throughout the day, students are assigned to multi-age “advisories”. The advisor to student ratio is approximately 1 to 18. These low numbers allow for advisors to really get to know their students and help them to develop their own learning plans, incorporating individual and group projects, as well as occasional seminars. 

The middle school (6th-8th grade) program has been modeled after the successful program developed for the high school: personalized learning, academic excellence, respectful and safe community, authentic (active) learning, the belief in social justice, and life-long learning. 

We believe middle school students can achieve at a high level, meeting rigorous standards in a way that supports independent learning. Therefore, our program builds numerous activities around projects and the study skills necessary to make project-based learning fun and meaningful. Students develop critical-thinking skills and positive relationships through authentic activities such as class service learning projects. 

The curriculum blends disciplines around common themes that reflect the everyday experiences of middle school students while also meeting the state’s academic standards. Their unique interests and questions will serve as the curriculum’s foundation as we encourage students to take risks and explore multiple opportunities. Students will learn about their local community, their state, their country, and the world in which they live. 

What makes Avalon unique is our commitment to making students the center of learning. They will take an active role in creating and sustaining our community through our school’s congress and peer mediation programs. They will choose how to approach their learning, while also being supported by staff committed to developing students’ abilities to become independent, life-long learners.

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