Getting Started with Project Based Teaching

StartingLine-1Some teachers struggle with project based teaching, because they are unsure of where to begin or how to generate ideas for projects. In her book Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences, author Suzie Boss suggests the following as potential project starters:

  1. Headlines.  The items that are making the news often interest students and provide opportunities to create projects. Scan your favorite news site for stories that might pique an interest.
  2. Popular culture. Listen to your students talking before and after the bell. What are they talking about? What movies are they seeing? Who are their favorite musicians and performers? These items provide great opportunities for projects.
  3. Real requests. Many students have connections with local employers via after school jobs or family relationships. These employers have needs that could be addressed through project based teaching. For example, a community reorganization committee may need to website to share information with stakeholders. Students could become involved in that type of project.
  4. Your own passions. Sometimes you as a teacher have interests that would engage students and become great projects. Share yourself with the students and see what kind of response you get.
  5. Collaboration.  Schools are filled with opportunities for collaboration and offer opportunities to address problems that impact students and staff alike. Be attentive to these moments. A few years ago, students at a nearby college became concerned about how much water was being used and how much waste was being generated from the dining hall. The students and faculty joined forces to examine the issue, gather real data, and make recommendations for improvement. The college accepted the student recommendations and reduced water use and waste in their dining halls.
  6. Existing projects. Many ongoing projects exist and are readily accessible via the internet. Enabling the Future, the International Education and Resource Network, the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education, and Out of Eden Walk offer ongoing project collaborations for students.

As you plan for next week, explore the opportunities you have for projects. Work with your students to select a project that will engage in new and exciting ways. You and your students will benefit greatly!



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