Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a key component of our instructional program at Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA). We integrate PBL as an articulated curriculum across all subject areas and in all grades. 

Our PBL enriches student knowledge by utilizing themes, unit-based queries and a variety of hands-on methods for every age and stage at our K-8 public charter school.  Starting with an essential question, our innovative PBL efforts, now led by Carrie Fiel,  also enhance community connections via field trips, guest speakers, and our highly rewarding service projects. One such community connection is with Echo Homeless Shelter. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy and example of a service project list about needs vs wants

Essential Questions

One essential question that informed this partnership was put to our first grade class, “How does knowing about the ABCs help others?” Together, we discussed the ABCs as words and books, and the impact of stories. And who tells stories? Sometimes our friends from Echo Homeless Shelter come to ACCA to share stories.

From there, we arranged for a scavenger hunt of what exists at a homeless shelter — do they have books? Or a TV? The minds of first graders are alive and curious! 

Almond Acres Charter Academy and students arriving at Echo Homeless Shelter

Once our students arrived at Echo Homeless Shelter and sourced what did and did not exist there, our students then interviewed the director to find out what else the residents could use. AACA students thought a book drive might help. Instead, what the shelter wanted was for students to come and read to the children residing there. In order to read to the children at the homeless shelter, we needed funds to buy books. 

Almond Acres Charter Academy and Valentine's Day flower sales

Empathy’s Role in Project-based Learning

Empathetic hearts and holistic views prevailed and the group decision was to sell flowers for Valentine’s Day and use those funds to purchase books for the homeless shelter residents, and enable our AACA students to go and read together. The flowers and supplies were curated by our AACA students, including a field trip to the Dollar Store. 

Almond Acres and field trip tol Dollar Store in support of community partnership with Echo Homeless Shelter

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 and imparting their ideas and wisdom to help solve or create a solution. We grow great kids! 

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!