[Week 2 Reflection] How do you Facilitate Projects?


#1

Have you helped others learn to create projects?
What were the biggest challenges you faced? What strategies have you used to address these challenges?
What questions do you have about a project-based approach to learning?

We love to hear your thoughts!

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[Week 2 Reflection] Creative Learning Spiral
#2

#3

#4

When we do our own projects, they are still puzzles that we are trying to solve, just puzzles that are real and meaningful for us, rather than arbitrary ones someone else has set for us.

And yes, as we solve our own puzzles, we start to feel our own effectiveness as individuals making the world a better place, so it absolutely it crucial for everyone of us humans to have the opportunity to imagine, create, play, share, and reflect, as often as possible.

I don’t have too many opportunities right now to facilitate projects, but I have been working on very clear ways to do so! I have a project of my own I’ve been working on for years called “Speaking UP”, and I’ve included an inquiry process in this. I have tailored the process to a variety of different applications, from healing from emotional stuff, to science, to defining one’s life goals.

The basic concept is to start wherever there is someone or something you care about being harmed or threatened in some way. So either a loss or a fear of loss that is affecting you strongly. Then we look at all the different relationships that are involved in this part of your life’s story. (Who, how, where, when, which direction, why?)

Here is the one that is for a more general audience. I’ve used this one in a workshop for telling one’s personal story, with some nice results.


#5

One challenge I’ve noticed a lot of learners (of all ages) face is generating the initial project idea.

In this case, as part of LCL we’ve been given the challenge “animate your name”, but how do you move learners to thinking of their own projects?

One of the techniques I use:
Rather than asking “what do you want to build?”, ask ‘bigger’ questions such as: “what do you like? How can we build a project to improve something in [insert area they said]?”. These can be helpful when helping learners to generate project ideas themselves without explicitly providing them with a challenge.
Eventually they ask themselves those ‘bigger questions’ and can generate challenges for themselves.

Interested to hear others’ thoughts and strategies :slight_smile:

Janelle


#6

Tanya Thompson, an inventor relations person at ThinkFun, and now Hasbro, gave a talk about designing for your 8 year old self - what would you have wanted? A good way to connect with what you wanted without it needing a form.


#7

One of my favorite things to do is to work with teachers and students and Scratch. I hate to stand in front of a group and lecture, but I have also found that 10 or 15 minutes of a “let me show you what I know” works wonders. I give them an intro and then let them go. The rest of the time is spent on helping (or learning from) students.

The biggest challenges I face is the reluctance of teachers to jump in and play. One strategy I use is to ask teachers to “drive” as I introduce Scratch. When someone drives they have to follow my directions. This gives teachers a hands on experience without the risk of looking like they don’t know what they are doing.

I love project based learning. That is the next step after introducing Scratch.

One more thought - kids don’t care that you don’t know. In fact, when I tell them I don’t know I think they don’t believe me ;-).


#8

Hi everyone

I read all the older replies and must say I found points to agree with in all of them.

We teach Scratch in CoderDojo. As each club is run independently, we all have different approaches to teaching. I think that is our main challenge : as kids we were all taught in these old fashioned suited to victorian times and first industrial revolution schools. We tend to replicate the teaching method we were exposed to as kids. So we created a syllabus for most of the classes. We teach kids, show them how to make a project and encourage them to make their own projects.
I found that a visit to Coolest Projects expo was a great source of inspiration. This is a yearly event where kids from dojos around Ireland and some from abroad gather to show their projects. It is a fantastic experience. We all return full of ideas for next year.
It is hard to break from the teacher in front lecturing model especially since our dojo is held in a school, but we are working on it. A great improvement in our Scratch advanced group is that we only teach for a maximum of half an hour and then everyone works on their projects.

Hope to move away from this system entirely. Another great teaching idea is the Hole in the Wall approach by Sugata Mitra.

I am very excited to participate in this course and hope I can apply what I learn in our coderdojo.

PS I like to be honest with kids and let them know if I don’t know something. I make a point of showing them how to learn, coderdojo style
Ask 3 then ask me:
-help menu, tips in Scratch
-ask another student
-research online.
Only after all these have been tried, ask a mentor for help. In Scratch we slightly changed this to ask 2 as we do not have Internet access for young students.
Kids truly do not care whether you know it or not, they appreciate the honesty and are ready to learn together.

:slight_smile:


#9

I’ve had a similar experience introducing my 4th grade students to BreakoutEDU. Digital breakouts don’t contain solutions, so it’s up to the “players” to figure it out. I took my students into the computer lab and gave them basic instructions to start the Breakout. It was hard, and many students tried to give up and ask me for the answers. When I told them that I didn’t know the answers either and we could work together to try and figure it out, they seemed surprised- and a little suspicious- that I didn’t have the solution. As pairs and groups of students began making headway on various parts of the breakout, they excitedly began to share their findings, and a buzzy energy began to fill the air. The kids had to make theories, test them, and try again when they hit dead ends, and after we finally finished the puzzle (~1.5 hours later), they felt so fulfilled and satisfied! If I was working with older students, I’d encourage them to develop their own BreakoutEDUs- I think that would be a really cool project requiring an intense creative process.


#10

I would say an initial challenge for group work especially for those who don’t know each other is breaking down barriers,
lots of fun, team building experiences that also contribute to a group identity, branding, senses of achievement

i often use Tuckman’s model - forming, norming, storming, performing


#11

I begin with the premise that create and creativity blossoms from interactions and engagement. People inspire each other. [My P was Peers, so this continues my focus for my LCL investigation.]

Biggest Challenge for my students: Fear
"I’m not creative." and “I can’t do it.”

My Strategy to overcome that challenger: No judgments, only ideas. Intervals for everyone to explore each other’s projects to offer 1 fun or fix-it or take-it-further idea.

Result: Trust in themselves as creative people with ideas spilling out, and trust in their classmates as non-judgmental sources of support and inspiration.

This is also a version of my creative learning spiral. Begin with ideas inspired by others and the world around you … investigation … creating … connect to others for more inspiration/help/reflection … more investigation … more creating … around and around.


#12

I love project based learning. I’m also terrified of project based learning.

I love it because it engages students in a memorable and impactful learning experience. I’m terrified of it because there are so many unknowns when planning a project - what will the students want to do? what if they pursue something I can’t help them with?

The beauty of the project lies in the unknown. It creates an authentic and shared learning experience.

Last year, I had the opportunity to invite an artist to come and work with my students. Her expertise was creating ornate pop up books (these were VERY elaborate). My second graders were so excited to see her work and learn how to create their own pop ups. I then had an idea - we had been learning about biomes around the world, and so I asked my students to create pop up books to represent their biomes. This was terrifying for me as a teacher since I had no idea what they would try to do or even how to help them. That said, I embraced it and turned my classroom into a book making workshop (needless to say, it was a MESS). While their final products were all over the place, the sheer joy in each kid’s face and the ability to express all they’d learned in a non traditional format made every minute worth it.

Students still, months later, are talking about their projects. Kids who seemed to struggle to put what they’d learned into writing suddenly were leading small groups in how to create new kinds of pop up features and had pages and pages full of animals and plants spread across their biomes.

As uncomfortable as I was, my students were equally engaged and excited. And in the end, I guess that’s all that matters!


#13

The biggest hurdle I run into is teachers being afraid the curricular outcomes won’t be covered. By approaching this fear with respect and kindness, most teachers can be gradually eased into taking a project based approach, especially once they experience how engaged and excited kids are when trusted to do what they do best - learn.


#14

My students in grades 1 to 5 work on projects involving making and coding. In grades 1 to 3 my biggest challenge is time. The school day is chopped up into pieces and each piece is devoted to a separate subject. So the children come to my room and have 45 minutes to work on their projects. When that time is over, they have to leave to move to the next chunk of their day. It puts pressure on them and on me to work in this way. There is rarely enough time to plan or to reflect.

In grades 4 and 5 I have designed the curriculum to be self-paced. I have no expectation that a certain project will be finished in a certain block of time. They are all ongoing and each child takes as much time as they need to work their projects through to completion. This seems much more realistic to me. I notice that the students in these classes seem much more relaxed and happy.


#15

This is my own problem - what do I want to create? Also feeling like I don’t have enough time to do something fully.
With children working with scratch I find the starter projects are great. The kids are soon altering them to suit themselves.


#16

Your first sentence is so true, and your second sentence is so funny! I never hesitate to tell students when I don’t know something, thinking it encourages a “we’re all in this together” attitude, and that it gives them an opportunity (or motivation?) to teach me something.


#17

I teach computing and ICT in primary schools from Year 1 (5 years old) to Year 6 (11 years old). I tend to begin with the younger ones using code.org. the initial years are all about getting them into the right frame of mind for coding (and lots of other stuff for that matter). I teach them to see challenges as something fun to solve - we look at breaking down the problems into little pieces (decomposing), finding and fixing errors (debugging). We also look at seeing errors as an important part of learning - I encourage the children to have a go, experiment, take a risk, test and idea - without the fear of getting it wrong.
From there I tend to move onto Scratch Jr. I begin by letting the children just tinker with the program - explore, experiment, have fin with it. Then I use challenges to teach children different skills (with extensions for the more confident children). Once they have got the hang of using the program we get creative and let the children create their own programs / stories. I need to do lots of modelling of my own projects, because at such a young age, the children to learn a lot through imitation and some are not confident with coming up with their own ideas.
From there we move on to Scratch and learn it in the same fashion used with Scratch Jr. I tend to begin with a challenge which teaches the children where to find different functions and how to use sprites and backdrops. At the moment my Year 5 children are coding chatbots and my year 6 children are coding games.


#18

As a teacher, I help students create projects all the time. My biggest challenge is always two challenges: time and failure. What happens when a student is working hard on a project, has learned a lot, but something goes wrong? In school, students are constantly up against time restrictions (the length of the class period, the length of the school day, and the length of the assignment). At the same time, parents and principals (and others) want to see finished products. In my experience, it is not always the students who learned the most from a project that have the greatest product at the end. Rather, creating a beautiful final product requires that a student limit their risk-taking and use many familiar strategies. A student who sticks to their strengths, sticks to the plan, and makes few mistakes will create a beautiful final product. On the other hand, a student who experiments, tries new things, takes risks, and makes a lot of mistakes is a student who has learned a lot.


#19

One of the biggest challenges I face in encouraging other educators to utilize project-based learning is constraints. I often hear: “standards need to be taught” and “tests need to be passed” and “I can do something fun like projects AFTER testing is over.” PBL and ‘learning by doing’ is not valued as a necessity, just bonus material “if I have time to get to it.” It is a difficult mindset to overcome for many educators.


#20

Yes! I think that would be an amazing project to have students create their own BreakoutEDUs!