Listen up, educators, we need to talk about project planning. We know projects are a fun way to explore a concept. It’s supposed to make it hands-on and give the students a chance to learn things more “in-depth.”
But, we also know it’s expensive and the kids may not actually learn more about the concept.
Also, where you are going to place yet another diorama?
That being said, projects are important. But we think they could be better and help the kids grow more. Here at Insanitek we believe that kids should be part of the planning process so their education is everything it can be. But, we also believe in integrating life skills, such as planning and metacognition, into brainstorming sessions. That’s why when it’s time to sit down to think projects, we involve the students. We plan on out the cans, the shoulds, but most importantly, the what we want to get out of each project. This makes every part of the educational experience educational ─ and it gives the students an opportunity for growth based off of real life stuff.
Here’s some tips about integrating this into your own homeschool or classroom.
Focus on integration of knowledge before project planning.
So, you sit down to chat about projects and the conversation starts to skew right away into “let’s see what Pinterest offers” and soon you’re distracted, once again, at possibilities. (We’ve been there, so we know.)
The solution to this is to focus on integrating knowledge into a project. Start with having the student answer the deceptively simple question, “What do I want to learn more about?”
This is where their passions will speak loud and clear. If they are interested in astronomy, go there. Maybe it’s bio and animals. Maybe it’s how math can describe the world that excites them. Whatever it is, start there.
Then, seek clarity.
We find looking at a table of contents helps jog memories about potential topics. Then, have the student pick one that they want to know more about. Seek clarity about what they want to know regarding this.
For example, say you’re studying environmental stewardship, and they want to know more about where trash goes. (Yes, we had a student that wanted to know this.) Turn this into a project ─ but we’re not going to Pinterest for the answers.
Brainstorm activities and things for projects
Turning towards the internet for ready-made activities is cheating the kids of developing life-long leadership skills and some opportunity for creativity. Instead, give the kids an opportunity to brainstorm some activities, events, or projects they could do to find out the answer and go more in depth about it.
- Perhaps they’ll say they’ll just watch a video and write a paper. That’s great ─ they get some basic research skills in.
- Perhaps they want to travel to a dump site and see the activities or talk to people. That’s amazing ─ they can develop interviewing skills and learn about project management.
- Maybe they’d rather investigate the science side of things and call for a trip to the library. Awesome ─ but push them to show off their knowledge and practise presentation skills somehow.
There is a huge world out there. It should be explored, poked at, and in such a way that gives kids the confidence to talk knowledgeably about the topics they are learning about. Having them design it with intention also helps them develop leadership skills and shore up those metacognition skills.