Carmel High School Vice-Principal Brad Sever has long been a proponent of project-based learning. So he decided to share his ideas and experiences in a book.
In April, Solution Tree Press published the final result, “Sustainable Project-Based Learning: Five Steps to Designing Authentic Classroom Experiences for Grades 5-12.” The book is written for educators and includes several examples from Carmel Clay schools.
According to Sever, project-based learning is an educational framework that promotes real-world learning experiences for students. For example, eighth graders studying the American Civil War—a state standard—could use this lesson to research and discuss how to abolish modern unfair labor practices.
Sever described teaching as an art, noting that every educator has their own style.
“(Project-based learning) is a methodology that maybe not all teachers are interested in, but I never think it’s a good idea to tell an artist how to paint,” he said. “Certain methodologies lend themselves more to some teachers than to others.”
Sever, a Carmel resident, has been a vice-principal at CHS since 2011. He began his career as a teacher at Creekside Middle School before working at Ben Davis High School, becoming a vice-principal at a charter school, then returning to Creekside to teach once more.
In addition to his role at CHS, Sever speaks nationally on project-based learning and other topics and has consulted with over 100 schools. He was a national faculty member of PBLWorks for over 10 years.
Sever had wanted to write a book for years and was lucky enough to start working on it during the 2019-2020 school year when CCS gave him a sabbatical.
“It really is a labor of love. It has been a lifelong goal and a dream for me to publish a book,” Sever said. “It was a very enriching experience.”
Sever said early feedback on the book has been positive, and he expects educators to have more time to delve into it over the summer break. He is especially looking forward to getting feedback from other CCS employees.
Sever has no concrete plans to write another book, although over time he has thought of additional material he would have liked to include in his first.