Designing Effective Projects : Projects in Action
Anatomy of a Project Plan: Foundation Phase


Pond Water and Pollywogs: Grade 2 Life Science Project
Learners rear frogs from eggs, and share their expertise in an informative brochure for visitors at a new amphibian’s exhibit at the local zoo. You may want to print this page as you view the entire Pond Water and Pollywogs Project .

Theme QuestionIs there no place like home?

Before Projects
Ms. Shapiro's Grade 2 class visited a natural frog habitat, collected information, and then designed an artificial frog habitat. They made observations, watched the frog cycle of life, and created newsletters and slideshow presentations about the experience. The theme focused on the growth of animals; however, this did not reflect an enduring question for her Grade 2 learners nor did it make a strong, personal connection to her learners and to the products.

After Projects
Ms. Shapiro decided to Introduce a theme question, so that it encompassed an overarching idea immediately relevant to her young learners and clearly connected to the assigned projects: Is there no place like home? Other teaching and learning strategies such as cooperative grouping, modelling, and tapping prior knowledge made the project more accessible to her learners.

In developing the project, Ms. Shapiro faced two key challenges. First, it was important to make the study of frog habitats relevant to her learners ’ lives. She wanted to come up with an Focus Question that her learners could relate to and that would connect animal habitats and life-cycles to their own lives. She also saw a challenge in having so much for younger learners to accomplish. She was concerned about time management and individual accountability. She wanted to be sure that each learner could complete the tasks successfully.

Overcoming Challenges
  1. Relevance. Ms. Shapiro decided to focus the project on the idea of habitats. This allowed for an exploration of homes in a larger context. By making the comparison to their own homes, learners could see the importance of a frog’s habitat to growth and survival.
  2. Time. In order to solve the problem of time, she used specific learning strategies like organizing her learners in small, cooperative groups to complete the slideshows and newsletters. The project was split up into tasks, making it more manageable for the learners to complete. She offered templates to aid in their design process and used older buddies, parents, and community volunteers to type the newsletters. Small groups completed puzzles which pieced together the life-cycle of a frog and graphic organizers generated questions and promoted thinking.