posted by: Cindy Omlin
| November 21, 2014, 09:56 PM
Projects have a great ability to engage and invigorate students. They offer an authentic learning experience as a means to evaluate student knowledge that is deeper and more nuanced than any multiple choice test. Teachers dream of projects that inspire, yet so often we design projects that are shallow and require little, if any, critical thinking skills.
While falling back on the old standards of posters, shoeboxes, and PowerPoint presentations can be appealing, with a little research and time it is possible to design the type of project that creates student learning, not just rehashes it. The following tips can help you design a project of your choosing:
- Make learning the standards the heart of the project. So often, we teach the standards first, and then give a project to reinforce or deepen understanding. Consider sending the students in to the project with a blank slate, and design the project so that learning the standards is unavoidable.
- Include critical thinking, problem solving, and other 21st century skills in the design. Many projects fall into a category of research then regurgitate. Avoid this by giving students a problem to solve.
- Center the project around a question. Students are inherently curious and answering a question will incite that curiosity while at the same time encourage the 21st century skills our students need for success.
- Give students choices. Students will appreciate being allowed a voice in the content or presentation of the project. They will choose things that are interesting to them or skills that they want to develop, making the project naturally relevant to them.
- Allow class time where students can reflect on their work and revise.Learning to edit your work an important skill and it’s a skill that needs to be taught. Students will often skip this step unless there is specific time provided for it.
- Present to an authentic audience. Move projects out of the sphere of class work, by providing avenues for students to present to a wider range of people. This can be done by publishing ideas online, asking ”experts” or families to come in for the presentation, or presenting their findings to an outside panel.
At this point, a teacher in the middle of designing a project may start to feel overwhelmed. It is a lot more work to design and organize a project of this caliber. Teachers don’t have to go it alone! There are many websites where other teachers have already designed high caliber projects. Consider the following sites for the core subject areas as a starting point: English-Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Originally published by Melissa at AAE.