Project-based learning program helping student teachers

Published: Mar. 24, 2018 at 6:47 PM CDT
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The future of learning is coming, if students at the University of Mary and Dickinson State University have anything to say about it. Partnering with a national agency, the teachers of tomorrow are working to implement new ways of teaching through project-based learning.

Paige Rising is well on her way to becoming a teacher. She's in her senior year at the University of Mary, majoring in English education. Since January, she's been student teaching 8th grade English at Simle Middle School, following a project-based learning approach.

“Students sometimes just need a little bit of freedom and choice and by giving them the opportunity to make choices in the classroom they're actually way more invested in what’s going on,” Rising said.

25 students teachers from the University of Mary and Dickinson State University are in classrooms at Bismarck Public Schools putting the project to use. The schools have partnered with the Buck Institute for Education, which is leading the training for the student teachers, showing them how to give students more control over what they're learning.

“Project based learning is an instructional method that is really about engaging students in their learning in a way that traditional learning often doesn't,” Megan Parry with the Buck Institute said.

“It really changes the focus to a more student centered approach,” Kim Stevenson, who is the Chair of the University of Mary Department of Education, said. “And so these pre-service teachers are actually getting the opportunity to develop lessons where students are engaged in making learning come alive for them.”

For Rising, it’s an opportunity to get into the classroom before she has a class of her own, and see just how the method works.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to learn more about to really engage students in learning and not just teach them content, which is important, but to get them to be passionate about learning,” Rising said.

And she says the students are also rising to the occasion. The partnership with the two universities, Bismarck Public Schools and the Buck Institute is one of just four in the country. The others are in South Carolina, Ohio and Michigan.