HTH instructors break down key components that comprise a well designed project in the context of project based learning (PBL). Explaining how cycles of inquiry serve as the foundation for designing a project.
I think a successful project leads a students through a sort of journey of inquiry that demands that they find some mastery in a variety of areas. And I think it also leaves an opportunity for them to put themselves into it. They found a bit of passion in a certain area, and there is headroom there for them to go off on a tangent, or what felt like a tangent, but then had a teacher that could coach them into looping that tangent back into the main thread of the project.
To do PBL well, students pursue meaningful questions in real depth.
Questions are really equitable space, because all of us have questions that we can ask. Sometimes questions are really factual, and sometimes questions can go deeper. And when we have those deep, meaningful questions with students, we can engage together as a collective in that exploration.
The thing that’s really important when designing projects to try to engage students and to have them feel confident as scientists moving forward, is that they experience science as a true scientist would, investigating authentic new questions using authentic tools to engage in the process, and then doing the authentic products and sharing that with the scientific community.
In PBL, my job as a teacher is to provide opportunities for students to investigate their own questions through things like documentary filmmaking, journalism, being a historian, poets, politicians, or whatever it is that gets them excited.
What I really think about in the design is, how do I give students an experience of some sort that’s going to lead them to ask questions that are pursuable. Open-ended, wild questions that require research, that require mentorship, that require working with each other and working with outside organizations to create something that ends up being part of their answer.
A lot of times that can be really scary for students, because it’s a lot of new. There’s a lot of new skills, new content, and just new exposure to things that seem really scary.
Teachers and students co-design questions, we craft them together, we research them. I bring usually one to them, and then they always extend and create their own.