[Week 2 Reflection] How do you Facilitate Projects?


I like your blended idea. I start off many of my workshops with a task - for instance, for second graders to build a maze in Scratch Jr. Then I show them a couple of ways to start that task - make sprites interact with a touch, send messages to the main character, etc. Then I set them off. With 10 minutes left, we do a share out to discover what each other has figured out. I think this gives an appropriate amount of scaffolding and gives plenty of room for students to discover multiple solutions, add their own passions and preferences to the project and exploration of other features in the code. …kind of like a writer’s workshop, Lucy Calkins style!

What does everyone else think?


Your list is a really interesting idea! I wonder how that would look in a middle school classroom setting.


A challenge I find with the Project Process is the students tapping into their heart and finding a project that they are passionate about. Once they have that passion project, I am limited by the amount of time I have with them.

I do so love the Project learning approach.
The students are active members of their learning and take such pride in sharing a passion.


I would like some suggestions on how to time manage project based learning . I am the media specialist and see each class 1 day a week for 43 minutes. In that time, the students select library books as well.


I have a vision for an elementary music curriculum that identifies invisible principles in creation that can be made experienced through sound. As I tell my students, there is a big difference between noise and music. Intentionality in patterns is interwoven even in nature but can be created by us. I want them to take musical concepts with them throughout life in the same way that we tech educators and artists want to help them express and discover through making things.

Take, for example, the concept of relational harmony, getting along with one another. We can understand it well when we hear the difference between melodic harmony and dissonance.

Last spring, I started to get ideas from the children. “I want to create a musical kingdom, and I need some help,” I said. I gave them time to imagine and to draw and to invent animals and island features with musical principles. One 2nd grader had a brilliant idea about a dinosaur that we could name “Note-rodon!” Over the summer, I began to write stories based on these ideas. The curriculum I am writing is truly a collaborative venture between me and my students.

Using the innate love for stories and imaginative play, I am assigning an animal with characteristics that align with music terms and concepts. I’ve been writing stories about a crab named Crescendo (his temper flares up and he gets louder), an octopus named Ottava (who has eight little oysters named Ottos that each sing a tone on the diatonic scale in solfege), and so on. Yesterday I was introducing Adagio the Alligator (“Take it easy, take it slow. That’s what _I_say!”). On the way out the door, a 5th grade boy asked me if he could come down at recess sometime so that I could help him to write a story about a new character. “I have some ideas, but you are really good at writing stories.” I was blessed to see that when you express your creativity invitationally, you may discover others nearby who want to join you. And so a new community is formed and a spiral of relationship and encouragement goes on and on. I believe that is what we are doing right now in this useful course!

It’s helpful to see what we do, whether educating or programming or whatever we do, as a tool for building others up and expanding their own creative possibilities.


That’s an interesting query. I feel that as educators, we should constantly be striving not for compromise between projects versus outcomes, but working to build symmetry between the two. I don’t see how one has to take away from the other, but rather can be an opportunity to mutually enforce each idea.


I think that you raise some important points and of course the point would not be to limit students or put a damper on their intrinsic motivation. On the contrary, anything that motivates students should be encouraged. Students, as individuals, sometimes need different approaches to reach that engagement and motivation. Gaming theory, gamification, and extrinsic motivation is only one way that some students do feel motivated. It’s one of the reasons video and computer games can be so compelling to play. (Not the only). Richard Lavoie talks about this and different forms of motivation in his book, Motivation Breakthrough. Sometimes extrinsic motivation is one way to get to intrinsic motivation.
Additionally, the goal is not to force students to do something, but rather feel comfortable and confident enough to leave their comfort zone and try something; to take the risk. As a teacher, I see many students struggle and suffer from anxiety which is heartbreaking.


These kind of projects I can relate to, except I haven’t asked my kids to create something after a lesson. They, especially my oldest (11yrs) who loves animals, tend to make Minecraft/Zoo Tycoon biomes whenever we learn about new animals or such, of his own volition. My youngest (8yrs) then “tours” these areas and his brother tells him about it, which results in a review.


The project approach is something I have worked with for years. It is how we work naturally so it makes sense to scaffold children and adults in using these natural skills to shape their learning.


I have to admit, my initial thoughts on projects, especially after viewing the videos, was that the child thinks up his own idea(s) and then builds upon it, with very little input from me/someone. And the projects have to be computer related. But after reading some replies here, I realised that it isn’t so much the child doing everything on their own and with technology (research, planning, creating). Not just computer-based, but creative in general. Also different levels for different aged kids of course, and some kids of the same age are more “able” to work independently or handle their own projects, than others.

As I mentioned in reply to another post, my oldest son does tend to create his own “projects” in the sense that he creates Minecraft/Zoo Tycoon biomes/areas about animals that we’ve learned about. My youngest isn’t at all interested in doing this, but he “tours” his brother’s biomes, with Oldest telling him about everything. He is very much an auditory learner. Keep his hands busy with anything while he listens to what you say, and he does not just remember what you said, but has great comprehension on the topic.

I am currently working on a History-Science-project for next year. Where we learn more about our country’s history, and as we “tour” the country from area to area (marking off on a map, according to the timeline), we learn about different plants/biomes, animals and geography subjects (meteors in eons past, volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, different rocks, etc. specific to our country and those areas). With my oldest I already know that he will relish the chance to use the 3D puzzles I’ve printed/bought to go with some of the topics, he’ll create Minecraft biomes without my asking, he’ll “go on”, but how do I engage my youngest in such activities? The closest he got to doing his own “project” was when he watched some historical videos with my husband, then built a Lego scene of one of the battles. And he did the same with a battle scene from one of his computer games. And he likes the microscope we bought. Ok, this leads me to ask him to create some of the battle scenes, build hills, mountains, rivers with Lego/blocks, insert horses, cavalry, and when we learn about animals, he can lead with “research” under the microscope.

When you do projects with kids, can they each work on their own point of interest within the broader topic of the project, and then tell the other about it? Does it have to be computer/technology related? How can I bring in technology/Scratch/something else?


My students began using SCRATCH a few years ago and they really enjoy it. One challenge that bothered me at first was when students would get stuck and ask me for help. Because coding on SCRATCH is such a “learn by doing” activity, the majority of the time I was not able to directly answer their question because I honestly had no idea what do either. At first, as an educator this was a bit unnerving, but now it’s just part of our learning environment. Now rather than feel inadequate about being unable to answer a coding question, I encourage the student to A) do a class shout out to see if anyone else has a solution B) use the SCRATCH tutorial C) go into other projects as see how they work D) don’t give up, learn from mistakes and keep trying new things.


I am quite enthusiastic about project work, I have read so many good things as a tool for the future generations to learn. I believe the strength of this idea is in meaningfulness and motivation. We have been working in our school for ten years on project work and now almost all teachers do some project work. But still I do not believe that all of them believe this is the idea to go on. So we organized a lot of tools to help teachers - mentoring of more enthusiastic teachers, discussions, educations at some detailed problem etc etc. But what I have realized after so many years is that there is one giant problem for many teachers and this is how not to be the central point of the classes and let things go, just go. The shift from lecturing to doing good planning is enormous and threatens to stop each idea because even very good teachers feel that the only way they feel they did their job properly is when they take control over everything going on in the class. Does anybody have any idea how change that?


It was my first experience when I started my Scratch workshop with primary pupils five years ago. It was a real challenge for me. Fear and excitement.
I was scared. I did know nothing. So I started my learning and my new scratch projects with primary pupils.
My strategy was asking and following steps such as:
what do you want
what do you need
how to do it
The same steps you follow when you cook a recipe. A daily algorithm.

By helping students to organise and reflect their ideas, they become “better thinkers” and so do I. They figure out what is right and what is wrong.
They develope problem-solving skills following directions by creating their own projects. Awesome!


Those children will probably remember that activity forever because it sounds like they were completely engaged in it, metally, physically, and emotionally. Keep going! The fear will turn to familiarity with that state of being uncertain.


I’ve tried in the past to encourage my students (3rd - 5th graders) to choose a “Passion Project” or a “Big Idea” project. I used a framework that has been put together by the TED-Ed club. It helps some students, but others still draw a blank when given free reign to choose whatever they want. Some students do better if they have a rubric to follow and specific requirements. I know that I felt more comfortable doing this Scratch project because there was a step-by-step framework, though I often went off the rails to try my own thing…but it still helped to have the next step there to guide me.

It seems that I’m seeing more and more students who feel that they need specific instructions and have real difficulty using their imagination and going off to explore on their own. I teach Kindergarten - 5th graders, and each year it seems to get more challenging. Even in our MakerSpace, where students are encouraged to explore on their own, many students gravitate toward the instructions and build what is pictured rather than just trying things to see what will happen. I keep reassuring them that there’s no wrong way to do something – they’ll discover whether it works or not, and it’ll help them learn – but so many seem afraid to try, or give up before they even try because they think “they don’t know how…”

So how do we fight this inertia?


I know there’s lots of resources online on guiding teachers on how to do “Genius Hour” or “Passion Projects” with their students. I have the same problem you do – I see most of my students only one time per week. Sometimes I will do a self-contained project – give the students a time limit. It might be over two or three class sessions, but I find that if I don’t tell some students “you need to finish your project today” they will drag it on all semester! There’s self-contained projects that can be done in one class, but I do carry over most projects over several weeks to make sure we spend enough time on it to do the topic justice. However, anything beyond 4 weeks, and both I and the students will have gotten tired of the topic! LOL

You can also tie projects in with the books they choose. Perhaps you can have students read a book and then build or create something from the book – and then present it when they’re finished?
By the way, check out Novel Engineering.
This may be able to integrate all aspects of what you do! It is the coolest thing ever! We have done it at our school and integrates Making with literature. And it doesn’t have to exclusively take place in the Makerspace. It can flow into the classroom.


The biggest challenge I face is trying to get the full attention of my younger students at the beginning of class. They’re always eager to get right onto the computer and start tinkering away on Scratch! It seems to work best if I hook their interest right away by posing a problem, asking a question or showing them a project and asking them how it might have been made.

I come up with a lot of my own challenges, depending upon what I think they might want to know next. I’ve also used Scratch challenge cards, the Bootup Curriclum and CS First to provide students with a wide range of project ideas.


I too love Scratch - and was so keen to have my students give animating their name a go, but was annoyed when I realised that Scratch doesn’t work on iPads - only Scratch Jnr. But the students taught me something this week (an activity that we do each Monday “Teach Mrs Watson something new”) and one group taught me how to create several pages in a storyboard and have their work flow between the pages as part of their coding!!! Very clever little 6 year olds. I love that nothing holds them back and they love the chance to explore and discover.


I have been working with a project based approach this year in my classroom with 2 year olds and 5 year olds.
I had studied this approach in the past, but had never applied it in my classrooms. I am so happy I did!
I work at 2 schools, and only 1 of these schools enforces project based learning. It is fascinating to see all these creative, fun, and smart individuals think of something, create it, and make it better (even if they are only 2 years old)!
As a teacher it can be intimidating to work with an approach you have never used before, but it feels great to be 100% involved in it, thinking, creating, getting my hands dirty, and learning alongside my students.
I hope to learn more about this approach!


Humm—I could see something like that working really well in MS particularly with social issues/ peer pressure, decision making in general?