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


African Safari Adventure: Grade 3-5 Life Science Project
Learner naturalists help safari guests learn about diversity, interdependence, and the wonder of life in the African wild. You may want to print this page as you view the entire African Safari Adventure Project.

Focus Question: If you were an African animal, which one would you most like to be? Are all animals worth protecting?

Before a Project Approach
Initially this was a research project. Mr. Tiffany's Grade 4 learners researched an animal and published a field guide on the important information that they gathered about their African animal.

After a Project Approach
Mr. Tiffany decided to improve this project by helping his learners make real-world and personal connections. The task was changed so that the research on African wildlife had a product with a more authentic purpose. The learners were to complete a field guide for Jungle Jeep Safari to distribute copies to their guests on a safari tour. The virtual safari tour would be represented by multimedia presentations that the learners would complete about their selected African animal. In addition, learners would not only research the animal, but present the information from the animals' point of view, creating a personal connection.

In shifting this project to a project-based approach, Mr. Tiffany faced three key challenges. His first concern was time. Adding the virtual safari tour would mean the addition of a multimedia presentation by each learner. He was concerned about providing enough time for all learners to use the computers and complete the project. With this additional work, learners would be given increased responsibility. This led to a second challenge, learner time management. He was unsure how they would mange their time efficiently with so much going on. In addition, the new project plan allowed less time for traditional assessment. He was concerned that he would not have concrete evidence to show that the learners had understood the content.

Overcoming Challenges

  1. Time. Mr. Tiffany was sure to model all expectations and had examples of exemplary work available to show learners. In addition, he included templates and storyboards to assist learners with the planning and design of their field guides and presentations. These aids sped up the process and meant learners could rotate through computers more quickly.
  2. Learner Management. Mr. Tiffany helped his learners to overcome this challenge by incorporating the use of checklists to self-manage and rubrics to guide learners. Initial discussions assumed that Mr. Tiffany and his learners were in agreement about what needed to be accomplished, how much time they would have, and the expectations and requirements of the tasks. He also incorporated peer and teacher feedback to make sure learners were progressing and to catch any problems before they arose.
  3. Concrete Evidence. As for assessment, because he was sure to embed several types along the way, he had many different sources to pull from. He took detailed notes when meeting with learners, and used the K-W-L charts, reflections, and rubrics to assess learner learning.