ESSENTIAL PROJECT DESIGN ELEMENTS

CHALLENGING PROBLEM OR QUESTION

Neither too difficult nor too easy, the right challenge or problem puts students at the edge of their comfort zone and causes them to stretch their thinking muscles.

SUSTAINED INQUIRY

Students need to engage in deep inquiry to make their own meaning. They need to be asking questions, conducting research, carrying out investigations, and weighing evidence to arrive at answers.

The driving question brings the inquiry experience into focus and leads to learning goals. Student-generated questions ("What do we need to know to answer the driving question?") help sustain inquiry throughout the project.

AUTHENTICITY

Make the learning as applicable to the real world as possible.

Look for real-world connections to:

  • context (issue or challenge isn't fake or simulated)​

  • tasks and tools - reflect how people solve problems and generate solutions in the real world

  • impact - students see their efforts matter

  • connections to students' personal interests, concerns, values and culture.

STUDENT VOICE & CHOICE

Students make decisions and are able to express opinions throughout the project.

REFLECTION

Students are prompted to think about their own learning throughout projects and consider:

  • obstacles they're facing

  • challenges they have overcome

  • quality of work they're producing

CRITIQUE & REVISION

Students improve their work and deepen their learning by engaging in cycles of critique and revision throughout the process to the final product.

PUBLIC PRODUCT

At the end if a project, students share their final product, solution or argument with an audience that extends beyond the classroom. 

Students are more motivated to produce high quality work when they know their efforts will have a real world impact.

 

PROJECT BASED TEACHING PRACTICES 

From the Buck Institute of Education (BIE)

 

BUILD THE CULTURE

The right culture

  • builds students' independence

  • fosters collaboration

  • encourages a growth mindset

  • supports risk taking, encourages high-quality work

  • builds inclusiveness and equity

Culture is the fuel for student voice and choice, sustained inquiry and persistence. Positive culture doesn't get built with a one-day team builder. It's an ongoing effort to create an inclusive community of learners.​

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