The Project School

Bloomington, IN

A Beautiful Whole Child School in Bloomington, IN

 “Heart, Mind, Voice”

The Project School started with the founding educators’ collective dream to create an authentic, democratically-led school grounded in core beliefs and values of heart-mind-voice, which are infused into everything happening in the school. As explained on the school’s website, “Social justice and environmental sustainability are paired with educational excellence in our classrooms and curriculum, family programming, and special events.” Four specific characteristics make the school distinctive: 

The first distinctive element is the P3 Curriculum Framework, designed to create a school culture where the conditions exist to develop Habits of the Heart, Mind and Voice. The P3 curriculum embeds the conceptual frameworks of project-based, problem-based, and place-based learning. Within this framework students, teachers, families and community members collaborate to generate school-wide topics and essential questions that guide individual, group, and community projects which address real problems in local communities through service-learning experiences. 

A second distinctive element is the school’s Museum of Authentic Work. Each year topics and questions that are most compelling are chosen by students, teachers, families and community members. The Compelling Generative Topic/Question (CGTQ) then serves as the overarching theme for the following academic year. Students engage in service-learning experiences connected to the school-wide topics and develop comprehensive portfolios of work based on the CGTQ, which are shared as visitors explore and celebrate the accomplishments of the school year. 

A third distinctive element is the use of multi-age classrooms. At TPS classrooms are paired together, except for Kindergarten, which is a play-based single grade. A multi-age classroom is created by intentionally grouping children of different ages, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 6-7 and 7-8. Curriculum is determined based on what is appropriate for individual children.

A fourth distinctive element is the opportunity for students to participate in Passions Classes, where they engage in a deep study of something about which they are passionate. When engaged in intrinsically motivated learning, students are able to reach a state of flow. The TPS website describes this as a state reached when one is so engaged in an activity that all sense of time, and possibly place, is temporarily lost.

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A learning environment of respect, joy, relevance, social justice, gender equity, and awareness of individual exceptionalities.

Focus on social - emotional needs, supported by the presence of emotional support dogs

Extensive collaboration with, and support from, local community and national partners

Infusion of environmentally responsible practices into the school’s culture and curriculum.