Designing Effective Projects : Characteristics of Projects
Inside Projects: Intermediate Phase


African Adventure Safari: Grade 4-5 Life Science Project
Learner naturalists help safari guests learn about diversity, interdependence, and wonder of life in the African wild. You may want to print this page as you view the entire African Adventure Safari Project

This project is made relevant to learners’ lives by introducing the theme question: What is the price of life? Learners write a newsletter, investigate the natural history of an animal, take the perspective of that animal, and create a slideshow of their findings.

Alignment with Assessment Standards
Project work is central to the curriculum. The topic of organisms and their environment is often part of the Grade 4-5 Life Science curriculum and addresses the assessment standards for the teacher that originally designed the project. It involves key science processes of identifying and understanding relationships between African animals and their environment.

Important Questions
The theme question, What is the price of life? is an intriguing question and elevates the thinking beyond the classroom. The Focus Questions are If you were an African animal, which one would you most like to be? Are all animals worth protecting? and they help make the project relevant to learners’ lives and connect new content to what they already know. Content Questions such as, What do African animals need to survive? prompt learners to think about relevant facts and information that lead to the higher level questions. The Focus Questions are posed periodically throughout the project, and learners are given many opportunities to discuss and reflect on it, individually, in pairs, and with the larger group. This not only gives the learners opportunities to think about the content at higher-levels but gives teachers information on the learners’ understanding of the content and ways in which they can direct and redirect their teaching. 

Multiple and Ongoing Assessments
Assessment is embedded throughout the project with informal assessments as the class creates lists, begins a K-W-L chart, and has discussions around the project topic and the Curriculum-Aligned Questions. These activities give the teacher a sense of how much the learners already know about the topic and how much learning needs to take place to reach project learning goals. Learners also create individual K-W-L charts and research packets, allowing the teacher an opportunity to assess individual learning. The teacher assesses the final product with the project rubric. Learners manage their work on the field guide with the same rubric and a checklist. At the end of the project learners write a follow-up paragraph or reflection essay about the theme question.

Authentic Work
The learners make real-world connections through the project, which asks them to make connections to their life and to that of an animal’s. Learners “become” their animal and create their presentations from the animal’s point of view. The letter home builds a home-to-school connection, while learners make ties to the community and beyond the classroom by creating a field guide, multimedia presentation, and Website focused on the Content Question: How are living things connected in their habitat and in what ways do they need each other to survive?

Demonstrations of Learning
Learners complete several products: a multimedia presentation that will be a virtual safari, a field guide distributed at the safari tour, and a Web site. The products are intrinsically engaging and authentic to the task.

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