What Makes a Good Project?
Whether projects last 2 weeks or 3 months, successful projects share the same key elements:
- Emphasize active learning.
Students should learn by doing, through hands-on opportunities to answer the driving question.
- Follow a well-established sequence.
Projects follow a sequence of planning, active inquiry and opportunities for students to share and reflect on what they've learned.
- Invite student choice and voice.
Invite active student decision making at each stage.
- Focus on high-interest topics and questions.
Your students might choose to explore questions about themselves (Are the media’s images of my generation accurate?), their communities (What can we do to make our community healthier?) or their world (How can we take better care of both our local and global water resources?).
- Result in a product.
Students may choose to design a website, create a museum exhibit or build a mechanical invention. They might produce a play, organize an event or capture through interviews the memories of elders. In some cases, especially with civic learning and engagement projects, results are not necessarily immediate. Such projects intend to influence the policies and decisions of governing bodies or produce lasting change in a community, and may be one of many efforts toward a goal.
- Include self-reflection.
Deliberately incorporate opportunities for students to reflect on how working on a project helps them develop academic and 21st century skills.