The Aquarium Project/Bilingual Orientation Center
Images of Students or their Work (typical).
The Aquarium project was such a success that
the Bilingual Orientation Center plans to
continue project-based learning with
the Seattle Aquarium and other community partners.
Lori Leberer comments on the Aquarium project: "When we first developed the idea for the project we expected that the students would learn about Northwest plants and animals and begin to have an understanding of the need to care for the environment. The students far exceeded our expectations. They worked actively to create beautiful products, demonstrating a depth of learning that was very impressive for limited English speakers. They worked together and used English to solve problems and create high quality work.

The culminating event stimulated the students to be very professional. As the final performance and mural unveiling approached, the students stayed after school to practice their speeches and dances with the help of an artist-in-residence. They performed for an audience of about 300 people with grace and confidence. We learned the importance of an audience outside of school to motivate students to do their best. We learned that our students are just as capable of meeting high expectations as any students.

This was the first year of the project. We plan to continue to do thematic projects and will continue to work with the Seattle Aquarium. As the project grows we are creating more opportunities for establishing connections with our students' communities: working in local parks, creating murals for local community centers, and involving parents in the projects.

Next year, we will stagger the project schedules so that students can complete their work for the culminating event without getting overwhelmed and panicky. While a project of this scale represents an enormous time commitment on the part of the teachers, it has been tremendously gratifying. Each season it gets a little easier to get funding and other kinds of support because of the past success of the project."


Project Based Learning