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About Race to the Top District Grant
Harmony Public Schools is a Race to the Top-District grant winner to receive roughly $30 million in grant money from the Department of Education. Harmony Public Schools has committed to using this grant to work toward supporting personalized student learning, improving student achievement and educator effectiveness, closing achievement gaps, and preparing every student to succeed in college and careers. “Race to the Top-District plans are tailored to meet the needs of local communities and feature a variety of strategies, including: using technology to personalize learning for each student; giving students opportunities to learn beyond the traditional school day and environment; supporting students’ transitions throughout their education, including from high school to college and careers; expanding partnerships with community organizations to provide students with targeted social services like crisis intervention, individual counseling and life enrichment opportunities; and providing professional development and coursework options to deepen learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.” The U.S. Department of Education

Harmony Public Schools Sets the Example for Project Based Learning in Recent Report

Harmony Public Schools was recently featured in a report by the District Reform Support Network, highlighting Harmony's excellence in project based learning. Teachers need instructional practices that impart more sophisticated and higher-order thinking and analytical skills for students across the achievement spectrum. To meet this challenge, many educators have landed on project-based learning (PBL). PBL is an inquiryoriented instructional method that builds rich content knowledge and real-world skills while empowering students to drive their learning. Race to the Top–District grantee Harmony Public Schools (HPS) counts itself among those who believe in the promise of PBL for their students’ deeper learning. Inspired by observations of PBL in practice in Harmony schools, this brief provides an overview of Harmony’s project-based learning vision, design and approach, concluding with a few key considerations for districts as they explore implementation of project-based learning.
Read the Report Direct Download
About Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, Essential Project Design Elements include:
  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

Buck Institute of Education

Share & Shine: Project Based Learning
Harmony students enjoy the project based learning (PBL) approach at Harmony as they get to engage in deeper learning, master scientific concepts and principles, and share it with others in their communities. We call this share and shine method, because students share their knowledge and excitement with their peers, younger students, and even with adults. The more they share, the deeper they engage in STEM and become natural STEM advocates. All the attention and gratitude they get from the audience is just part of the bonus! Most recently, Harmony students showcased their PBL STEM projects in Energy Day Festival(Houston), Sally Ride Science Festival(Houston), and Plasma Science Expo (New Orleans, LA). Visit these links to show highlights from each community event.