PBL Icon

Project-based Learning

Creativity Icon

Creativity

DS Icon

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Icon

21st Century Classrooms

Literacy Icon

Literacy

ELA Icon

Language Acquisition

STEM Icon

STEM

Teaching Icon

Teaching and Learning

Language Arts Icon

Language Arts

Math Icon

Math

Science Icon

Science

Social Studies Icon

Social Studies

Professional Learning Icon

Professional Learning

Rubric Maker Icon

Rubric Maker

Graphic Organizer Maker Icon

Graphic Organizer Maker

PBL Icon

Project-based Learning

Creativity Icon

Creativity

DS Icon

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Icon

21st Century Classrooms

Literacy Icon

Literacy

ELA Icon

English Language Acquisition

STEM Icon

STEM

Teaching Icon

Teaching and Learning

Language Arts Icon

Language Arts

Math Icon

Math

Science Icon

Science

Social Studies Icon

Social Studies

Professional Learning Icon

Professional Learning

Pics4Learning Icon

Pics4Learning

Rubric Maker Icon

Rubric Maker

Graphic Organizer Icon

Graphic Organizer Maker

Raise Our Standards

Develop projects that endure

Raise Our Standards

Projects create memories for students. Those memories contain the skills and content learned during that projects development. The best teachers are those who inspire memories in their students, and engaging students in great projects is a powerful way to do so.

Raising the bar

In this age of higher, tougher, meaner academic standards, any classroom practice associated with creativity is susceptible to caricature. Constructivist educators struggle with the perception that our kids can’t possibly compete with their peers in India or China when engaged in project-based learning. It is imperative for constructivist educators, therefore, to raise the bar, challenging their students to achieve a high standard of quality. The value of student projects at all levels needs to be demonstrably obvious even to the most casual observer.

My last article detailed the elements found in great projects, but even when those elements are present, I fear that our standards are sometimes too low.

All too often, we are enchanted by the technical merit of a project and forget the importance of relevance, meaning, and sufficient evidence of understanding. Adults are often quick to celebrate students’ success with technology and neglect to consider the overall impact of student project work.

This verbal inflation, a phrase coined by Seymour Papert, may result from a fear of computers, a lack of imagination, or a shortage of technological fluency. Rather than concentrating on purpose, relevance, sufficient time, complexity, connections, access, shareability, and novelty, we are distracted by the technology, and the project suffers for it. A powerful project inspires student memories because of the learning that takes place during its creation, not because a student successfully navigates the technical vagaries of the software used during its creation.

Idea Illustration

An artisan’s aesthetic

Artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, poets, crafts people do not set out to produce or consume content. They work tirelessly to draw, write, paint, film, compose, play, build, knit, sew, act, or direct to create personally meaningful objects, sights, sounds or memories. In the rare instance, others will value such personal expression.

I suggest that educators plan and evaluate student projects based on a loftier set of goals. Teachers should embrace the aesthetic of an artist or critic and create opportunities for project development that strive to satisfy the following criteria.

Is the project:

That last variable is the highest standard of all. Does the student project have a chance of enduring? Will it make a contribution to knowledge or be a source of student pride? Will a parent frame the work or preserve it in a scrapbook? Artists have no idea if their creation will endure, but that is their aspiration. Should student projects aim for less?

Creative Educator can help bring PBL to your school or district. Find out more

Think about the sorts of projects that parents love and cherish. The best projects endure in the minds of students and on their parents’ refrigerator door.

Gary Stager

by Gary Stager

Dr. Gary Stager (@garystager) has spent the past 26 years as an internationally recognized educator, speaker, and consultant. He is co-author of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom and the Executive Director of the Constructivist Consortium.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Wixie
Advertisement
Advertisement
A great project

Eight elements of great project design

Wixie student projects

What can your students create?

Advertisement
Paper

The beauty and the value of paper

Get Started with Rubrics

Make It Matter! Move from projects to project-based learning

Student centered cartoon

Less us, more them. Create student-centered contexts for learning

More sites to help you find success in your classroom

Rubric Maker

Rubric Maker

Create custom rubrics for your classroom.

Graphic Organizer Maker

Graphic Organizer Maker

Create custom graphic organizers for your classroom.

Building Literacy Guide

Pics4Learning

A curated, copyright-friendly image library that is safe and free for education.

Topics

Creativity

Digital Storytelling

21st Century Classrooms

Project-based Learning

Teaching and Learning

Curriculum

Literacy

English Language Aquisition

STEM

Lessons

Language Arts

Math

Science

Social Studies

Creative Educator

Professional Learning

About Us

Tech4Learning