Hands On! Minds On! Project-based Learning at AACA

Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to learning. It encourages students to learn by getting hands-on and exploring content in a more interactive way. Our Almond Acres students acquire deeper, more meaningful knowledge by actively exploring real-world situations and challenges.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a key component of our instructional program. We integrate PBS across all subject areas and in all grades whenever possible. Our PBL enriches student knowledge by utilizing themes, unit-based queries and a variety of hands-on methods. Our innovative PBL efforts also enhance community connections via field trips, guest speakers, and our highly rewarding service-based projects. Our project-based learning is always driven by a question.

project based learning trip

Service and project-based learning is a creative outlet for our students that also encourages partnerships with our broader community.  Last year we had 43 different  

businesses, both for profit and nonprofit, work with our school!  Here are a few examples: 

Our kindergartners visit Annette Lodge, and learn how to listen to stories, and learn how to tell stories.  Both generations tell stories and listen to stories. For our kinders, the PBL question here was, why are stories important

Another class, our third graders, spent time caring for the beach as they sought to answer the question, how can I be a steward of the ocean?  First they learned about the importance of waste — and what happens to it, how it can end up in our oceans. And they learned about caring for the wild animals who call the beach and oceans home. We were visited by experts from SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority for this PBL experience. 

project based learning trip

Our third grade class displays their science project in the Paso Robles City Library  

and in Studios in the Park. They are excited to showcase their artwork and also support and serve our community by providing a beautiful 3D mural to different locations in town.

Our eighth graders enjoy PBL in several different spaces. Previously, they focused on entrepreneurship. They took a tour around Paso Robles City Park and visited about a dozen different businesses.   We asked what does it mean to be an entrepreneur,  

and how do you start your own business? Our eight graders met with different businesses, and practiced being interviewed by each other, too. Says our Executive Director, Bob Bourgault, “It was a beautiful dialogue to help kids understand the power of inspiration; to start a business or engage in entrepreneurial efforts.” 

Allegretto Hotel chapel

This year, our eighth grade students visited the Allegretto Hotel to understand the wide array of art on display here. Our middle school class will create an art piece for our new school’s atrium, and this visit was the first step to answering the question, how does art live on? 

For our fourth grade class the question was, what best tells the story of the California missions?  Instead of just researching a mission project in a traditional method, our AACA students investigate an artifact from the mission. It might be a stone, or a bell, or a cross. It might be a gravestone or a well. Our students research and share what they’ve learned about this particular object that represents life in the California mission. 

project based learning trip

Project-based learning is meaningful. It involves making decisions, solving problems, and interacting in or with something or someone that’s real. It’s always engaging and provides a longer-lasting impact on the students. We love PBL at AACA! 

About Almond Acres 

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

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