Project Plan Index
Teaching and Learning Strategies
Benefits of Project Approaches
Learn about the benefits of
projects in the classroom.
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Characteristics of Well-Designed Project-Based Learning Exeperiences
There are many kinds of projects implemented in classrooms. Effective projects balance the level of learner control with teacher-planned structure that guides and focuses learner work. The characteristics below help define effective project-based learning experiences.
Leareners are at the centre of the learning process.
Well designed project-based experiences engage learners in open-ended, authentic tasks. Compelling project tasks empower learners to make decisions and apply their interests and passions to culminating products and performances. Learners learn through inquiry and have some control over decisions about how they complete project tasks. The teacher takes on the role of a facilitator or coach. Learners often work in collaborative groups, assuming roles that make best use of their individual talents.
Projects focus on learning that is aligned with assessment standards.
Good projects are developed around core curricular concepts that address national assessment standards. The project has clear goals that align with assessment standards and focus on what learners should be able to understand and do as a result of their learning. With a focus on assessment standards, the teacher defines appropriate demonstrations of learning in an assessment plan and organizes learning activities and teaching interventions. Project work culminates in learner products and performance tasks such as persuasive presentations and informational newsletters that demonstrate understanding and achieve assessment standards .
Projects are driven by Curriculum-Aligned Questions.
Questions keep projects focused on important learning. Learners are challenged to dig deeper with subject-specific content questions that structure their research. There are two types of Curriculum-Aligned Questions: Focus and Content Questions. Focus Questions are tied directly to the project and support investigation in a focused way. Focus Questions help demonstrate how well learners understand the core concepts of the project. Content Questions are more fact-based and ask the more basic questions that are necessary to engage with the more challenging Focus Question.
Projects involve on-going and multiple types of assessment.
Clear expectations are defined at the beginning of a project and are revisited with multiple checks for understanding using varied assessment methods. Learners have models and guidelines for high quality work and know what is expected of them from the beginning of the project. Opportunities for reflection, feedback, and adjustment are embedded in the project.
The project has real-world connections.
Projects are relevant to learners ’ lives and may involve community or outside experts who provide a context for learning. Learners may present their learning to an authentic audience, connect with community resources, tap into experts in the field of study, or communicate through technology.
Learners demonstrate knowledge through a product or performance.
Projects typically culminate with learners demonstrating their learning through presentations, written documents, constructed displays, proposals, or even simulated events such as a mock trial. These final products allow for learner expression and ownership of learning.
ICT supports and enhances learning.
Learners have access to different types of ICT, which are used to support the development of thinking skills, content expertise, and creation of final products. With the help of ICT, learners have more control over final results and an opportunity to personalize products. Learners can reach beyond the walls of the classroom by collaborating with distant classes through email and self-made websites, or presenting their learning through multimedia.
Thinking skills are integral to project work.
Project work supports the development of both metacognitive and cognitive thinking skills such as collaboration, self-monitoring, analysis of data, and evaluation of information. Throughout the project, Curriculum-Aligned Questions challenge learners to think and make connections to concepts that matter in the real world.
Teaching and learning strategies are varied and support multiple learning styles. Teaching and learning strategies create a richer learning environment and promote higher-order thinking. A range of strategies ensures that the curricular material is accessible to all learners and provides opportunities for every learner to succeed. Teaching and learning may include the use of different cooperative grouping strategies, graphic organizers, and teacher and peer feedback.