“More Fun Than a Barrel of . . . Worms?!” – Diane Curtis http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms
“Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning” – Sara Armstrong
“March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies’ Migration”
– Diane Curtis http://www.edutopia.org/march-monarchs
All of the articles seemed to link together well for me, after I had completed reading all three and watched the video. There were things in common that linked all of the projects together, and it was interesting to examine the student and teacher roles in the projects. Using project based activities like these truly seems to engage students, and foster an enthusiastic and student led atmosphere within a classroom. Though sometimes more challenging to produce and see through, learning this way is wonderful for our students.
What linked all of the projects together was the hands-on and student led approach to learning that these projects provide students. Teachers facilitated the learning, and provided guidance and structure, but students are given the chance to create and think for themselves. When taking ownership and creating based off of their own ideas and convictions, students are so much more likely to feel dedicated to and excited about a project or an assignment. A project based assessment can show new facets of a student’s ability, mastery, and understanding, unlike traditional assessments. The design principles of these projects are similar because they all require planning, flexibility, and creativity from each of the teachers. In addition, and what I think is the most important commonality, is that all of the projects had real world implications for their students.
The understanding that the projects had actual meaning and purpose tremendously seemed to help student engagement across grade levels. Some of the students were taken on field trips, all conducted research, some presented and argued a design, created and sold items as an actual business, and the list goes on. These students were creating work that had actual purpose and meaning. In my own classroom, that seems to be what truly engages students. In addition, these projects helped student engagement because student made their own decisions and had ownership of their projects. Helping to choose topics and conducting their own research put them in charge of their learning. Teachers reported there were fewer behavior problems and better test scores as a result of students learning through this project based model (Curtis, 2001).
Technology made a lot of these projects possible. Research, field trips, drafting, and communicating with others, all helped these students build their projects. Some of the projects were formally presented, while others were ongoing and students built upon their work throughout the year. Separate from just using a computer or tablet, students used other technology tools such as digital cameras. The integration of technology and the freedom to create projects like this did make me a bit envious. While I do have some flexibility and can use my own ideas at my school, these types of projects to be a sole way of teaching seems to be something to strive for.