Using Projects for Student Learning
Projects are a great way for students to learn. Providing multiple ways of presenting information and knowledge through projects allows all students to share in a way that is best for them. Not all students do well with written or oral assignments. Some require more hands on methods of sharing ideas and knowledge.
Over the years, I provided opportunities for students to do 1 or 2 projects a year that were connected to key ideas in the curriculum. Most of the projects I did were tied into social studies or science, but other subjects areas can be used as well.
Students had a choice of ways to present their information. Sometimes there were several options, and other times there was only a couple of options but the specifics were flexible to allow for creativity in the presentations. The hands on and collaborative nature of these projects worked well for the students and they were very engaged in their learning. See some of the different presentations in the pictures below. The students were very excited to share what they had learned with others and they presented with confidence.
Social studies and science projects
Here are some of the projects I did over the years.Some had several choices for presentation, and others were displays or models. You can check them out by clicking on the images.
The key to making these projects work is the home/school connection. Some of these projects involve some research that involves the family. The heritage project and the flat family project require the child knowing something about their family's history or background. The final projects require work at home as well. The bulk of the research and teaching is done at school, but the specifics for the project presentation will be done at home. (Note: I have had times where some of my students were unable to get home support. In these cases, I had my educational assistant or the librarian or some other person help them out. If I had some spare time while others where engaged in an activity, I would also provide extra support.)
It is important for students to know the expectations and criteria for the projects they do. I provide a criteria list and marking sheet for each project so they know what they will be evaluated on. I usually give this to them when I give the assignment so they have a clear idea of what is expected when they choose the way they are going to present the project. The parents also know ahead of time and they can help the child check to see if everything that is needed is there.
Over the years, there have been several different types of projects, but the main criteria hasn't changed much. I decided to compile some of my social studies ones for you. If you would like to have your own copy, click the button below.
I use these marking sheets for younger students. They are suitable for up to about Grade 4. For older students, a more detailed rubric would be a better option. The criteria sheet is still a good way for them to make sure they have the necessary components for their projects, but a rubric would help with evaluating writing and oral presentation skills.
With the move to distance teaching, these projects are still doable, but there will need to be some modifications. For instance, presentations will be done via an online application such as Zoom. The question period can still be done this way as well.
The tricky part will be doing the initial teaching and making sure that students have access to the materials needed for the research. This may be videos, websites, or some more detailed online instruction.
It will require some extra prep beforehand, but I believe it will be worth it when you see the results and the engagement of the children.
When you download your criteria sheets, feel free to edit them to fit your needs.
I will share more about how to use projects for STEM another time. I hope you have found this information helpful. Please let me know in the comments if there are any other areas you would like to add.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.