The PLTW Curriculum: How and Why it Works
All PLTW high school courses have several underlying content areas in common. As students progress through the sequence they will become proficient in:
- working as a contributing member of a team
- leading a team
- using appropriate written and/or visual mediums to communicate with a wide variety of audiences
- public speaking
- listening to the needs and ideas of others
- understanding the potential impact their ideas and products may have on society
- problem solving
- managing time, resources and projects
- going beyond the classroom for answers
- data collection and analysis
- preparing for two- and four-year college programs
PLTW's curriculum makes math and science relevant for students. By engaging in hands-on, real-world projects, students understand how the skills they are learning in the classroom can be applied in everyday life. This approach is called activities-based learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning or APPB-learning.
Research shows that schools practicing APPB-learning experience an increase in student motivation, an increase in cooperative learning skills and higher-order thinking, and an improvement in student achievement.
Activities are a method of instruction that involves directed teaching of a particular process or procedure. Activities engage students in learning skills that are later applied in more complex situations. Activities lead students to higher levels of learning.
Project-based learning is a comprehensive approach to instruction that presents a project or relevant activity that enables students to synthesize knowledge and to individually resolve problems in a curricular context.
Problem-based learning is both a curriculum organizer and an instructional strategy that presents a problem, which is relevant and related to the context where students are the stakeholders. Students synthesize and construct knowledge to help them actively grapple with the complexities of the problem and develop strategies to direct their own learning. When students experience a problem in context, they are more likely to make connections and thus see the value in what they are learning.