Carmel High School assistant principal authors book on project-based learning


Carmel High School assistant principal Brad Sever has long been a fan of project-based learning. So, he decided to share his insights and experiences in a book.

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CHS assistant principal Brad Sever recently released a book for educators on project-based learning. (Photo courtesy of Brad Sever)

In April, Solution Tree Press published the end result, “Sustainable Project-Based Learning: Five Steps for Designing Authentic Classroom Experiences in 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 instructional framework that promotes real-world learning experiences for students. For example, eighth-grade students learning about the U.S. Civil War – a state standard – could build on that 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 might not be something that every teacher is interested in using, but I never think it’s a good idea to tell an artist how to paint,” he said. “Certain methodologies lend themselves to some teachers more than others.”

Sever, a Carmel resident, has been an assistant principal at CHS since 2011. He began his career as a teacher at Creekside Middle School before working at Ben Davis High School, becoming an assistant principal at a charter school and then moving back to Creekside to teach once again.

Besides his role at CHS, Sever speaks nationally about project-based learning and other topics and has consulted for more than 100 schools. He has served as a national faculty member for PBLWorks for more than 10 years.

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Sever had wanted to write a book for years and got the chance to start working on it during the 2019-20 school year when CCS granted him a sabbatical.

“It’s very much a labor of love. It’s been a lifelong goal and dream of mine to get a book published,” Sever said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience.”

Sever said early feedback on the book has been positive, and he expects educators to have more time to dig into it during summer break. He’s especially looking forward to gathering feedback from fellow CCS employees.

Sever doesn’t have concrete plans to author another book, although over time he’s thought of additional elements he wishes he had included in his first one.