Month: October 2018

Essential Elements of Project Design

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student projectThe challenges of our rapidly changing world have caused educators, employers, and policy makers to think carefully about what it is that students should know and be able to do. There is significant agreement among these groups that students need content specific knowledge and skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving (also known to us at the 21st learning skills).

What can teachers do to provide learning experiences to address these needs in ways that are student-centered, inquiry driven, personalized, performance-based, rigorous and engaging? Author Suzie Boss proposes an answer: Project Based Teaching. In her book Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences, Boss shares seven elements essential to project design:

  1. Challenging problem or question – Projects begin by identifying a question or problem significant to the student.
  2. Sustained inquiry – Projects will require a period of study and research to find answers to the question.
  3. Authenticity – Projects have meaning and relevance to students.
  4. Student voice and choice – Projects are student driven, and students have a variety of ways to gather and disseminate information.
  5. Reflection – Students have the opportunity to think about their learning and share their thoughts.
  6. Critique and revision – Students receive feedback from the teacher or others regarding the project. Students have the opportunity to update their projects based upon the feedback received.
  7. Public Product – Students need the opportunity to share their project with the class, school, and community as appropriate.

Think about the topics you need to cover in the next quarter. Do any topics lend themselves to project based teaching? If so, start thinking of ways that you offer students the opportunity to engage in such a learning experience. You and your students will be glad you did!

A Measure, Not THE Measure

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nfl catchNFL scouts use a spider graph to assess prospective wide receivers on twelve elements they deem important to success in the league. Those elements include height, weight, arm length, hand size, 10-yard dash, 40-yard dash, bench press, broad jump, cone drill, 20-yard shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle.   During a presentation at the ASCD Conference on Educational Leadership last October, Myron Dueck reviewed the spider graphs and actual game statistics of three top ten picks and one 63rd round pick. Interestingly, the 63rd round pick had the worst spider graph, but the best game performance statistics during his first few seasons in the NFL. Dueck went on to explain that the spider graph was A measure, but not necessarily THE measure of success in the NFL for these players.   The spider graph cannot measure all the intangibles, such as work ethic and sheer determination, necessary to be successful.

The same holds true for educators.  Nearly every state employs some type of standardized test for its students and reports the results publicly.  This represents A measure, but not necessarily THE measure of success for our schools. Is this good information to know? Absolutely. We need to know how our students are doing on these state assessments, and we need to continue to improve our pedagogy and practices in order to give students the opportunity to perform well on these assessments. Is the state test the only measure we should use? Absolutely not. We must be continually mindful of the fact that our students will continue to learn and grow in our schools, because of our efforts and their own grit.

All across the country on a school day, students and teachers will bee engaged in a variety of activities. Students and teachers will be laughing and enjoying their work. They will be in safe facilities.   These are the successes that cannot be quantified by the state assessment.

Keep up the great work! You are making a huge difference in the lives of our students!!