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Project-based education model given test drive in preparation for school remodel, new Gardiner Middle School

Ogden Middle School eighth graders Daniel Henderson and Ashlyn Hartley presented their project on the impact of climate on westward expansion to an audience of parents and classmates. At Ogden Middle School, eighth graders in James Mardon's history classes have been exploring American growth during the westward expansion from 1807 to 1890. As the Oregon City School District develops a more project-based education model, these classes are giving it a test drive in preparation for the new Gardiner Middle School and the remodel of Ogden Middle School.

Each project is focused on either industry, urbanization or territory. Working alone or in small groups, students chose their own research topics, each driven by a key question.

One team asked "What inventions were used to share music in the 19th century?" Others asked, "How did trains change the world?" and "How did territorial expansion impact Native Americans?"

"Project-based learning is more engaging for students because students follow their own interests and teach each other," Mardon said. "I've seen a real boost in student motivation, planning and teamwork."

The project ended with a showcase event for parents and classmates, where students explained their projects, including maps, models, timelines, diagrams and computer presentations.

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