Students at St. Matthew School work on a project. Research, teamwork and presentation skills are high on the list at the school.
Students at St. Matthew School work on a project. Research, teamwork and presentation skills are high on the list at the school.
HILLSBORO — Teachers at St. Matthew School here are pushing students to do research, collaborate and develop skills in presentation. In education lingo, it’s called project-based learning. 

Jennifer Cooper, middle school language arts teacher, and Eileen Noradki, fourth grade teacher, attended a national conference on the techniques in Georgia last April. They are guiding fellow faculty.  

Students and staff have already completed successful projects. Last year, the fifth grade class expressed worry over the transition to the middle school, and the sixth grade used interviews to identify the younger students’ concerns — homework, teachers, classes and organization. Using prior knowledge of advertising and research on public service announcements, sixth graders designed a poster series and produced commercials.  

“Last year’s class project helped me to be less worried about the transition to middle school, because it helped me to be prepared for what was coming,” says student Margaret Galendez.

More projects promoting the skills are on the way.

“Science Fair is another great example of project-based learning,”  said Robert Read, middle school science teacher. “It all starts with identifying a problem to solve or a question of individual interest.”

In February, the school will host a regional middle school science expo for Catholic and home school students in the Portland-metro area.