Ask a Pro – Part One of a Two-Part Series for Secondary Educators

By Theresa Phillips, AAFCS Membership Committee Member

Dear Pro: Project-based learning has all kinds of benefits for students, but how can you use it with human development topics?

You’re right. Project-based learning is a great way to teach content skills while also helping students practice 21st century skills, such as collaboration, communications, and critical thinking.  While human development isn’t the first topic that comes to mind when you think “project,” it certainly does lend itself to this mode.  Think application.

When learning about teen issues, have students create PowerPoint® presentations on an approved topic of their choice.  These can then be shared with the class (and the best ones sent on to the administrators or guidance counselors for a little added PR).  If dealing with peer pressure or bullying is the topic, have students create pamphlets, stories, or even comic books for 6th graders on the topic.  You could even have students create and implement an anti-bullying campaign at your school.

When teaching child development, why not let students invite preschoolers into the classroom for a breakfast (or lunch or snack) and have students plan activities for them.  When learning about aging, let students plan a get together with seniors.

Personal safety issues lend themselves well to school campaigns: public service announcement for the school  or local radio station, posters and pamphlets for the school or local rec center, or student-created lesson plans for younger students.

Don’t forget FCCLA.  Many FCCLA activities lend themselves well to this type of learning. FCCLA can be done as an afterschool club or right in the classroom itself so every student can benefit from the great projects.

Whatever you choose, the idea is to have students apply what they’re learning to real life in meaningful ways.  It’d be interesting for some of you to share your ideas as well.  Please feel free to comment on this blog post or email me at

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