Middle/High School – Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is an approach to teaching in which students respond to real-world questions or challenges through an extended inquiry process. It often involves peer collaboration, a strong emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills, and interdisciplinary learning.

The High Tech High schools in San Diego are grounded in a project-based approach to instruction. The curriculum is teacher-designed and teachers are encouraged to craft lessons and projects that respond to student interests and teacher passion. Many of the teachers have strong global connections and international interests. The following are examples of projects that include a global emphasis.

The Gaga Pit

Students in Mr. Shulman’s 8th grade math class learn geometry and strengthen computation skills while constructing a play area for an Israeli game.

Article – Going Gaga: “Constructing” a Math Community

Walking the Silk Roads

Each year, Mr. Elizondo’s 7th grade humanities class recreates a series of Silk Road towns to simulate the exchange of goods and ideas between Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Article – Walking the Silk Roads

Modern-Day Slavery

Humanities teacher, Jaimee Rojas, connected past and present when studying slavery with her 8th grade students.

Article – I am the Change: Modern Day Slave Project

African Bushmeat Project

Jay Vavra’s high school biotechnology class studies DNA and conservation while investigating the illegal bushmeat trade in sub-Saharan Africa.

African Bushmeat Expedition

New Americans Project

Students in Leily Abbassi and Jennie Ganesan’s 8th grade humanities classes build understanding of historical immigration by interviewing New Americans.

Article – New Americans Project

Crossed Gazes

Middle school students from San Diego and Tijuana learn filmmaking techniques to create videos about children on the “other side of the border.”

Article and Photos – San Diego/Tijuana Crossed Gazes

Aboriginal Art

Middle school art students learn and apply Aboriginal art techniques to create representations of themselves.

Article and Photos – Aboriginal Art

Cuentos Infantiles

Beginning language students create Spanish picture books to share with children in Tijuana.

Article and Photos – Cuentos Infantiles

Discussion Questions


  • What is the global learning the students demonstrated in these project examples?


  • Do these projects provide students with the opportunity to develop critical thinking, international mindedness, and respect for peoples and communities in their discussion? If so, how? If not, what is missing?


  • How might you engage students in similar learning opportunities in your own school setting?
  • How might you design projects that integrate global learning in your classroom?


Information on Project-Based Learning
Buck Institute for Education

Information About High Tech High
High Tech High Website
High Tech Middle School Book

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