I loved work on projects…sharing ideas is awesome…the mosti difficult part…agree on them…however when you see your project finished, you realized that there are still new things you can add, modifiy or rebuilt. I have used diffrent strategies to start a project, incluiding the journal, graphic organizer, hand craft, technology,etc. I would like to know some strategies to work with time…since being a part of school you have to cover a period…but…even if you set dates and deadlines…there is always something you need to conclude…and how can we motivated students that start with a great idea and then do not want to continue working on…or with somebody who is lazy or not in the mood…have you face that…any tip is welcomed…
AT this moment I teach pre-K to 5 and at Middle School and HS club for girls (Girls Who Code club). My major hurdle is to motivate them to explore and get inspiration. For the lower grades the challenge is structure, the younger grades do not need much encouragement to explorer, but they tend to want to explorer and their attention span is short. The older grades want more instruction, but I need to encourage them to explorer and be creative. The 3rd graders (9 -10 yo) are in between, they are my most challenging class.
The nature of my position allows me to routinely collaborate with others in the creation and implementation of projects. Some of these projects get repeated with another group and/or the following year. Finding time to plan together has been one of our biggest challenges as common planning time can become hard to schedule. Another challenge are pacing charts and expected minutes set on learning certain subjects by students each day. Planning hands on projects that incorporate more than one topic are exciting opportunities for students that can allow for greater understanding when planned thoroughly. There are many strategies that we use…Essential questions, TFU and backwards planning can be very helpful. The online world has allowed for collaboration that allows the project planning to be more fluid, easily accessible at home, work, anywhere…allows more contributors. Repeating project with other groups or the following year allows the team to reflect and refine so that future learners benefit from the planners/teachers past experiences and revisions. Sharing the student work with an outside of audience of peers and other students allows for another set of opinions and reflections as students make their learning public.
Thanks for the great reading list!
Thank you. Direct instruction makes so sense. It’s hard to get away from an image for the word what I have before. That so much helps.
Thank you for your advice. Those websites are great, helps me so much .
Sorry about the delay to your wonderful message. Yeah Makey Makey is awesome. Sadly, it didn’t exist when I was working with the individuals that I speak to. However, it is a great tool to promote tangible and tactile experiences that can encourage participation and creativity. I’ve used it to do “cardboard switching” through an organization I’ve volunteered for called CodeCreate, www.codecreate.org. Lot of fun and so many possibilities beyond the banana keyboard type project! Thanks for sharing!
Art class is creativity for expressive/self-expressive ends. Design is “applied creativity”-- the use of our creative drive to answer two questions: Why are things the way they are? and How can we make them better?
Projects are the way I empower students to take ownership of their learning. In the words of Robert Marzzano in his “Dimensions of Learning” publication, Projects offer students the ability to Problem Solve, a specific Thinking Process (a collection of skills), so this is from the 1980s. Of the skills involved in Problem Solving one is “Restructuring”: Changing existing knowledge structures to incorporate new information. To me, this is what Projects nail, they challenge students to make room for new information while at the same time employing knowledge in new ways to solve problems.
In my classroom, I’ve worked for many years through a Design-Based Approach. I’ve worked with university Industrial Design students to help students learn how to find problems through building empathy for the users, iterate, prototype, test, reiterate and present. The biggest challenges are often pipeline challenges. 5 classes of students in groups of 4, each group with its own physical prototypes, presentation posters, etc…the storage space just doesn’t exist. As well, there’s the pipeline of time. Such work takes time. I’ve been successful, but it’s exhausting.
I’ve scaled things back as well, but I’m always looking to create project challenges that are loosely structured so that students have to navigate the messiness themselves. https://www.codeandco.ae/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Design-Squiggle-First-Last-1.jpg
I often like to relate tasks to a need relevant to the school or community. This makes the project more relevant to the students and therefore encourages a greater level of interest and engagement. My biggest challenge would be encouraging imaginative thinking and have students come up with their own ideas.
In general, many people think that they cannot come with a project or idea. I think as Janelle said, ask them bigger questions could help. May be ask them to do a prototype of their ideas even if it is wrong. One reason I think people do not come with new ideas, is the way we learned in schools.
May be creating a story is good, for example, your mother is in the ketches but there is no glass, how can you help her. Do brain storming activity with kids might help.
Last year I starter with a project “animate the letters of your name” with two classes (Age 12-13). I Never used scratch before, I just had a look to the web pages, but I had some experience in coding. I told my students that we could learn together how to use it and we started! Each student had a computer, but soon started to work in couples and when they found something interesting they told to their classmates what they discovered, they helped each other and did creative project, all students did a project, some projects weren’t finished but I think that students had a good opportunity to cooperate and to learn from their mistakes! We can not spend so much time on this because I teach math and science. This year I started work on geometric problem solving projects. Since, as I read, time is a problem when we use a project based learning at School, I would like to know how other math teacher are working with their classes.
I typically facilitate projects by asking lots of questions. First off, “What do you want to do? What do you want to learn?” Then I can see if it is something we can accommodate in our makerspace, or do I need to find more resources. Then I seek more knowledge like do they need any training? what tools do they need? Which questions should I ask along the way to guide the project? Can i connect this person to that person for X reason? So many questions that help me help guide them. I am a mirror. I am a facilitator.
I am excited about project-based learning. It makes sense to me, and I’ve experienced its results first hand. Of course – this is how humans learn things when left to their own devices (cue DIY culture, workshops, and the vast array of discussion forums on the world wide web).
We often only seek out information once there’s something in our lives that incentivizes it (i.e. once we’re already engaged in a project). In my adult life, essentially everything I learn is in relation to one project or another.
In trying to make my classroom more project-based, I’ve noticed that simply assigning projects increases participation and learning. I often struggle, however, with defining the parameters of these projects and find myself scrambling to collect all of the materials and information my students desire once it’s begun.
Which brings me to my big question…
How can I limit the project, so that I can have everything they will need in advance, but not hinder their creative process?
I introduce coding in with various resources throughout my Computer K-5 curriculum. I use code.org with each grade level during Hour of Code every year. Beyond that, I use the ScratchJr app (and the Kodable website - www.kodable.com) with my first graders and Scratch with my fourth and fifth graders. For the first time, I just introduced the use of BeeBots - www.bee-bot.us (from terrapinlogo.com) with my kindergartners. They were a big hit!
My biggest challenge is time. I only have classes once or twice a seven day rotation in 40 minute blocks. I try to utilize our class time as efficiently as possible by giving a quick demo of a concept and then give the students a chance to explore and create. I’m able to cover a variety of concepts, but it’s tough to have enough time to work on more in depth lengthier projects. I’ve tried to encourage creation and sharing from home, but I haven’t had much luck with kids following through.
One thing new that I did last year was hold a First Grade Coding Day (Scratch Day) - inviting first grade parents to explore and learn coding with their children. It went really well. The kids were really excited to act as guides for their parents as they helped them create projects in ScratchJr and navigate mazes in Kodable and the parents were thrilled to see what their children were learning in school. I will probably do it again this year. It was a nice extension of activities that we did in computer class.
Creative learning takes time. In school, that is the biggest struggle that I have with facilitating projects - there is not time in our school schedule for the time it takes to tinker and be a creative learner. Usually, a class will just start the flow to a project and need to stop because it is the end of class. That is put on hold for two days or more because I only see them twice a week (on a normal week without holidays). Most of the time, they can pick it up, but the flow has stopped and it may not come back easily or at all.
I am also working on how to ask the right questions to keep students working. That is the second thing I struggle with.
Another is pushing students to strive for excellence in their work and not just be happy with the mediocre completion of a project.
I teach a project based learning elective subject for middle schoolers called ACCORD (stands for Ambition, Creativity, Challenge, Opportunity, Risk, Do). Students collaborate on a project that lass one semester and present their findings, research and products at an Exhibition at the end of the process.
There are two road blocks I find the students have. These often occur some time down the track in the project. To et go and allow themselves to apply a creative response to their proposal or driving question is often the most difficult thing they have to work on. Students are so used to producing a talk, a ppt or a report to they struggle to work on a meaningful product. When they do find that perfect way of expressing their learning they are totally engrossed in learning new skills and solving problems. The other is to back up a second time in the year with another project - they often come to the subject with one idea only and have difficulty finding a second / third and forth project they feel equally as passionate about. (they are able to continue a project into a second semester if they wish).
The course is team-taught and teachers bring different ‘flavours’ to the table with the students. The kicking off of the project each semester is hugely important. It can be a provocation, something inspirational or playful. We often start with team building, or a collaborative activity to remind them of the different aspects of working in groups. We then like add some hands on activity as well as discussion and brainstorming.
Right throughout the process we encourage reflection and feedback - blogging, annotating photos, sketch-noting and video reflection are encouraged.
Its important to work with them on their collaborative skills and workshop with them how they will form their response to the process and the project by exploring possibilities for products.
We’ve had some amazing projects over the years including a full costume set for Alice in Wonderland created completely out of recycled materials, a scale model of a sustainable community, a virtual reality experience to advocate for the preservation of rainforests and a picture book about the plight of refugees.
Its a joy to work with students and overcome their hurdles to express themselves through their passions.
I see what you describe and wish I had more knowledge / skill/ time to frame activities for classes. Least confident respond to slower, more incremental steps in learning with more guidance or at least less chance for them to get lost in their experimentation. Since many have short working memory and lack skills of pattern recognition and abstract thought they struggle to learn on their own. I think I am in that group! I tried to build a world in Kodu before being required to teach it to a Y5 class. I lost the view allowing me to see what was in my world so I couldn’t see the effects of my experimentation.
I couldn’t find out how to put it back and no one could help nor could I find online. I gave up. I didn’t have time to familiarize myself with the program. I acted as facilitator but not as expert and thankfully 3 children quickly became confident enough to act as consultants. We did copy code. Those of us who understood from this went on to experiment. Those who didn’t had the security of a tourist guide if you like and stuck to the well trodden path- we did have some sense of achievement when we copied well enough for it to work.
I think learning by exploration is fine for some people but not for everyone. I know a lot of youngsters who were switched off modern foreign language learning because it became fashionable to speak mainly in the target language in class and this didn’t provide enough support for children to gain access to the language.
I think, once again, horses for courses.
Yes, I have helped others learn to create some kind projects, example: Scratch.
The biggest challenges I faced is that:
1st. The time to do it is too short show they are not easily to understand the tools if they are not interested in it, especially: the students – while the other things are more interesting with them (like facebook or movies,…)
2nd With the kids, who are very interested in it, they are too young to explain the mathematics concepts like coordinates or degree while turn or negative numbers,…
My strategies is:
1st With the students I guide them to see some projects on the community and try to read and understand the code by change some numbers in the circles of blocks or see the youtube tutorials. I gave them a book from Havard university (Creative Computing – a Vietnamese version). But I think I haven’t solved the problems (because my request projects may be not interesting enough with them )
2nd With the kids, I can use the pencil and paper to draw clearly the difficult concepts, but I often let them to try again and again because they are a game with the children. I think it’s better and they can do their fun projects as they want.
"Rather than pushing children to think like adults, we might do better to remember that they are great learners and to try harder to be more like them. While formal thinking may be able to do much that is beyond the scope of concrete methods, the concrete processes have their own power."
How to include this kind of thinking into formal school or informal learning, how to promote this kind of learning among adults, and what are the benefits? how to explain the benefits to others?