Project Making

Growing up as a child I always remember loving making projects. I would collect all kinds of materials thinking of all the projects I could create with them. The whole planning and step-by-step process seemed so exciting, knowing that later you would see what you had imagined come to life.

Project making is a popular learning activity with students.  Generally most students enjoy making and creating different kinds of projects. I have found that flexible groupings work well with project making. It can be done in groups, pairs or even independently. Project making can be a social and interactive type of learning. Students learn to negotiate with others as they share their ideas throughout the process.

Sometimes group projects we do with our students in the classroom can be viewed by others as fun art and craft activities. Drawing, coloring pictures, cutting materials, and putting things together I believe it is more than an art and craft activity.  It is a process that involves organizational skills, social skills, problem solving and time management skills to name a few.

How can we effectively use project making to access students’ ideas, interest, skills and knowledge?

What makes a good project?

Gary Stager has spent the past twenty-six years as an internationally recognized educator, speaker, and consultant. In his article, What Makes a Good Project he quotes,

“Projects are what students remember long after the bell rings. Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories” (p. 21).

Stager (p. 20) also includes the eight elements of a good project which are

  • Purpose and Relevance
  • Time
  • Complexity
  • Intensity
  • Connected
  • Access
  • Shareable
  • Novelty

                                                              The Umbrella Project

Two weeks into our Weather inquiry, I noticed that the students were not as enthusiastic as I’d hoped. To jumpstart their enthusiasm, I decided to put an old umbrella on a table next to my desk without saying anything… just hoping that one of my students would notice it….

….And that they did… And so our Umbrella Project was born!

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3 thoughts on “Project Making

  1. “Projects are what students remember long after the bell rings. Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories” (p. 21).

    So true Carina. I love your Umbrella project!

    I have been thinking a lot about the joy students get from creating something and have decided to start ‘Passion projects’ in my classroom. There is certainly value in connecting learning and creative projects to the current Unit, Math unit or Writing genre and I try to incorporate these each week.

    I also feel learning can be very individual and often is not connected to what we are currently learning about in class. Students have many strengths and are passionate about random things.

    I want to tap into this and get the students excited about learning, asking questions, researching and planning. Throughout the process they will be refining their organizational skills, writing, creating, reflecting and presenting to the class.

    The students in my class will have the opportunity to work on their Passion project one afternoon each week. I will give them guidelines and strategies to help them organize their project but will step back and try to give them the space to try, fail and try again.

    We kicked off the planning this week and I was blown away by their big ideas. I can’t wait to see how this develops in the coming weeks.

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