Concrete TIPS for Day to Day Implementation of Great Project Learning
Let's put concrete tips that help teachers do a better job in the trenches of an actual project. As a Project Learning Coach, I get to work with great teacher who generously share their successes. I would like to dedicate this first TIP to Nadirshah Velasquez.
How to make the creation of the Know-Need to Know list a more successful and ACTIVE process:
Prior t Nadirshah's suggestion, I used to create the Know-Need to Know list by the traditional "Teacher asks kids to think, and waits for kids to raise their hands and offer ideas." Naturally, when using this strategy, the same 33% of the kids participate, and the rest can all too easily 'check out into "dead time."' Here is how Nadirshah set it up.
Have kids begin with “private think time” where they each create their own ‘Know-Need to Know’ list, and write at least 3 items in each column. Then, pair them up and have them share their lists, AND create 3 new items that were not on either of their lists prior to pairing up. Now, all students should have plenty to share. You can choose how you have them share ‘up’ to the class at this point. Some ideas are: collect them at the board as with traditional instruction (kids call out, and teacher writes on the board); have kids post to a wiki or google apps page; have kids show on their fingers how many they have on each list, and choose the ones with the most items to go first, then see if others have anything to add.
My favorite part of this strategy is that after the Know-Need to Know list is created, and after Nadirshah has posted the list high on the wall, and added a blank sheet of chart paper underneath (to capture future items as the project progresses), Nadirshah returns to the list, chooses one of the “Know” items and asks the students, “How do you know this? How do you really know this? What does it mean to know this? What parts of this do you know, and what parts of this don’t you know?”
I think this is part of training to ask good questions, and training for critical thinking, AND training kids to know what they know ‘for sure’ vs. what they superficially know.
Does anyone have other TIPS to suggest that will make Project Learning a more active and engaging process? Let me suggest some categories that you might put in your subject line, in case we want to break these out into separate threads down the road:
Kicking off a Project – Day One
Holding kids accountable to daily/weekly work
Managing High Performance Teamwork (Slacker Hardball)
Coaching High Quality Presentations
Coaching Outside Adults on how to be part of a Panel
Coaching kids how to interact with outside adults