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V. Designing a project: A Blank Project Template and Considerations for Creating a New Project

Working with this template will help you to think through the goals of the project, the steps, materials and resources needed, and how you will measure success and learning. An excellent resource for designing and planning is the 2009 document: GigaPan School Dialogues: Diversity and Inclusion in the Community: A classroom project as a learning experience.
This document defines the essential question as “Adventurous Question”. It should:
o   be open ended, generative and have emotive force
o   encourage collaboration
o   concern a major, relevant issue
o   have a core question, and subquestions (perhaps generated by class brainstorm)
Project design considerations:
o   Consider including a highly interactive activity, such as a field trip, interviews or field research
o   Consider forming collaborative groups, with individual roles and responsibilities
o   Accountability can be tied to assessment, for both individuals and groups. Rubrics help guide expectations, and can be created at rubistar.com. Self assessments can foster ownership of the project in addition to revealing unexpected learning outcomes
o   Sharing and applying knowledge and skills should be incorporated into the learning outcomes
o   KWL graphic organizers are useful for generating the workplan. Consider keeping this posted and refer to it during the project as a “touchstone”
o   What do students already know about the topic? About the needed skills?
o   What do students want to learn? What skills and background information will they need to learn? When and how will you teach them?
o   What did they learn and how do they feel about this new knowledge and/or skills?

The Standards
Knowing what you want the students the understand as they progress through the project as well as when they have completed it is an important part of you design. Ask yourself what skills need work? What skills have you not been able to focus on yet that you would like to get to during the project?  Add an activity to the work flow that gives opportunities to teach and learn those skills. Project Based Learning is at its best when targeted skills are embedded into a relevant topic, and assessments are ongoing, not just at the end.
The Unit Plans in this guide use the National Standards as well as the Common Core Anchor Standards. Whether you design a new project or join an existing one, you will want to review the Standards, adjust for your grade level and state/district requirements. This example of a West Virginia teacher’s CSO’s is tailored for her objectives in the project Travels through Literature. This level of specificity can help teachers to justify activities and measure success!

o   Students will make inferences about a place within the literature RLA 0.3.18
o   Students will compare and contrast two real places using a graphic organizer. RLA 0.1.13, RLA
o   Students will use cause and effect to predict how changes in the setting could change the story. RLA 0.1.13, RLA
o   Students will produce grammatically correct comments and questions RLA, 3.2.7, 3.2.6, 3.2.5

Share your project with the Gigapan educational community on the School Dialogues site.

Use this template so that others can follow your concise thinking.  Add attachments and resources, plus any comments for improvements or increased success!

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