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


Insects: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Grade 6-8 Life Science Project
Leaners become entomologists and investigate insects from the twin human perspectives of benefit and hazard. You may want to print this page as you view the entire Insects: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Project

Focus Question:
Would we be better off with no insects in the world?

Before a Project Approach
Initially, this project was a research project. Ms. March's learners chose an insect, did research on the Internet, and represented that group. Learners wrote reports about insects. The Curriculum-Aligned Questions for this project centred on categories of insects and there place in the food web, however these were not addressed in the project or the learners’ products.  

After a Project Approach
Ms. March decided to improve upon this project by making it more focused specifically on the the place of insects in the learners' lives. She wanted her learners to reflect on what life could be like without insects. To that end, she introduced the Focus Question Would we be better off with no insects in the world? and take on the role of entymologists.   

In shifting to a project-based approach, Ms. March faced three challenges. First, because much of the learners’ work would be independent and self-paced, she wasn’t sure how to gauge the project time. She was also concerned about giving learners so much choice: choice of persona, choice of insect, and choice of documents to create. She wasn’t sure how she would monitor learners’ progress and maintain quality with so many different topics and choices. Lastly, with so much going on in the project, she was unsure how to organize the classroom space. Currently, her learners sat in rows and a couple of computers lined the back wall.  

Overcoming Challenges 

  1. Time. Ms. March knew her learners needed to learn to prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently, so she incorporated the use of checklists and timelines. These tools would allow the learners the opportunity to take responsibility for their own work. With the timeline, Ms. March established deadlines and allowed the learners to work at home and school.
  2. Choice. Periodic individual check-ins and discussions with each learner were inserted into the timeline. This way she could gauge their progress and discuss their choices periodically, without taking away their ownership of the project.
  3. Classroom Organization. Ms. March was sure to gather as many resources as possible ahead of time, and compiled a computer time sign-up sheet to manage the use of the computers more efficiently. She also arranged the desks into groups by countries, so the learners could share materials. This helped learners assemble with ease and set a precedent for collaboration.