Project Based Learning

Below you will find information, links, and other resources to walk you through the process of completing a problem-solution inquiry project.  Throughout the project, you will have an opportunity to choose a topic you are passionate about, identify the challenge, discuss potential solutions, and then offer your own best solution.

Stage 1: Task Identification 

To start, we will use a prompt to structure your problem-solution response. The prompt is pictured below. While you won’t be writing an essay, this prompt contains verbal cues for structuring your response. See if you can identify the key parts of the prompt as they would be reflected in the structure of your answer to it.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.06.56 AM

Now, take a moment to watch the following YouTube clip about how thinkers structure information. As you are watching, think about how the parts of the prompt above might be structured to make them memorable and to give your answer clarity:

Consider the question again: How might the prompt pictured above be turned into a structure that would allow you to answer the question.  Visualizing a model for your answer will help in the later stages of this project. For now, let’s look at a one student’s project from a few years ago. As you look at the presentation, consider how her arrangement of content matches the prompt and the information you learned in the video.

You can also watch my own project, which addresses the problem of not having enough time to get everything done during the day, here:

And see a sample script for the screencast HERE. The screencast model above, and the script are meant to be examples of something you might produce when planning your project. However, you should choose methods and technologies, which best fit your topic and information.

Stage 2: Initial Inquiry and Proposal

Now that we identified the structure of the project, and looked at a student model, it is time to choose a topic and propose it to the class. To do so, visit the initial inquiry document, which contains a visual on how to test sources for credibility, and gives you a brief list of links to sites, which contain collections of potential topics.

After you have selected a topic, enter your name, a topic, and a brief overview with a source in the Class Topics and Description document. Once all students have submitted their proposed topic, and the class has reviewed the list, you may choose to form research teams to investigate a problem of similar interest to the group.

Please be prepared to share your topic and description with the class in 2-3 minutes.  This will allow your peers to offer suggestions, to ask questions, and to help you narrow and refine your topic, if needed. This will be the last step before conducting more sustained research on your topic.

Stage 3: Sustained Inquiry and Content Curation 

The next step in the project will be the most time consuming and take the most evaluation and organization. To help you collect information from the web, including text, images, videos, and other media, we are going to use, a social bookmarking tool, which will allow you to bookmark pages, share with your group members and make notes about how the sources relate.

You will also be able to share your bookmarks with me, which will be part of the final assessment of the project. If you are unfamiliar with, here is a quick clip on how to use it. While the video is a few years old, it gives a clear explanation of the key features in “Plain English.”

Stage 4: Planning and Composition

By the time you reach Stage 4, you should have a collection of source material and notes to use in creating your final product, which will share your findings with the rest of the class through a hypermedia composition (more on that below).

Before jumping into the final product, some planning is necessary. To map how you will present your information, you are invited to create a visual map or model of your project, including where key information will be shared, and how it will interrelate.  This is kind of like a graphic organizer–here’s an example of one. You may use this simple version as a foundation on which to base your own visual map of the project, but you are encouraged to use a web-app or Google Tool to create a mental map, which will allow you to link sources and media within the planning space. This can then be incorporated into your final product, if there is a natural place for it.

To get started thinking about how to spatially relate information, it may be helpful to take a brief look at Gerald Graff’s templates for writers, a source, which gives you the connecting langauge to bring sources into conversation with one another and with your own point of view, a key to being successful on this project.

There are several options for creating a visual model of your project, including Google Drawings (accessible through ASD Google Tools), Easel.lyPiktochart, and others, including a storyboard tool. For the online apps outside of Google Drawings, there are several excellent video tutorials on YouTube. Many of you have used already, which is a good choice, but not mandatory.

Stage 5: Synthesis and Presentation

It is now time to use your plan to create a hypermedia product, which will present your problem and solution to the class. You may choose to create a presentation, podcast, infographic/multimedia poster, digital timeline, short film, a website, or some other product that allows you to align different forms of media in a structured way to inform your peer audience and teacher.

Above all, think about which kind of product will best represent your ideas. The technology should enhance the work you have already completed.

When you have completed your hypermedia product you will present it to the class. This can be done by talking us through an infographic, poster, or presentation, hitting play if you have made a short film, podcast or video log, or navigating through a website to present your information. As you present, your peers will be invited to give you feedback using the following format. This feedback will be given to you when your presentation is over.

We will use the Bless-Address options as a whole class. You may choose to use the two page document linked above as a revision checklist before finalizing your product. This two-part structure will be provided on paper for each project in your class, collected after completion, and given to the presenting group at the end of the class to aid them in their own self-evaluation.

Stage 6: Evaluation and Reflection

After your presentation, you should have received Bless-Address feedback from your classmates. Take a few moments as a group or individual to review peer feedback and to see if you spot any patterns in the feedback. Consider how your own impression of the project is similar or different to your audience’s.

Finally, use the following rubric to rate your product and process. If you completed the project in a group, I will need one product evaluation (page one) and a process evaluation (page two) from each group member.

These evaluations will help me assess your work using the same rubric.  You can expect me to fill out the product side of the rubric and to respond in writing to your process commentary.  Although I will have monitored the process and assigned points along the way, I am interested in your point of view and reflection, and how to imrprove the inquiry project as a whole the next time I go through the process with students.

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