Session–Transforming Technology Projects from Good to Great.

July 15, 2008

I came in 15 minutes late to this session….Gary Stager was talking:  Questions worth asking (That is a great and loaded sentence starter:  In anything we do in education we should always start with questions such as these….)

  • is the problem solvable?
  • is the project monumental or sustantial?
  • who does the prompt satisfy?
  • what can they do with that?  — It has to fulfill an important end.


A good prompt:  So important.  When we set the bar high, when there is an audience, the kids will do well.
(I agree with this—always when I have set my standards high with worthwhile goals, my students have thrived and risen above my expectations.) 

Gary states these points:

  • a good prompt will challenge students and motivate them.
  • you need to provide appropriate materials
  • you need to provide sufficient time
  • you need to provide supportive culture and expertise
It also must have an artist’s aesthetic.  It needs to be thoughtful, beautiful, personally meaningful, sophisticated, shareable with a respect for the audience, moving to you, and enduring.  
(I totally agree with this. Student’s project should be worth looking at.  If it is on there, it should be worth looking at.  )
Ways to Use Materials.
1  Teach a specific concept
  • gears, friction, multiplication of fractions…..
2.  Thematic project
3.  Curricular theme
Gary Stager says we need to use computer as a Prop.  
Educational technology is not about hardware, its about software.  Software defines what you are able to do, and knowledge is a consequence of experience.  
Sylvia Martinez is talking about the “yeah buts”, and how to get through them with project based learning.  And she is explaining that you model and tell them to let go, and talk to them about the HOW to do it.  Don’t teach the tools. the kids will get it.  They will go for it if they have a chance. 
This is a great aha….if we teach the kids, the teachers will come!!:)  What I mean is that if I plan in any of my workshops to really teach about management, and the “HOW” to manage any of the project-based learning that I am advocating in their classrooms, then hopefully they will leave with the confidence they need to begin the project.  
Opening it up to questions and comments:
Q.  Projects take lots of work.  How many do you do?
A. Constructivism is not a way to do things it is a state of mind.  
A comment:  go through the curriculum standards at the begining of the year–choose some standards that you can do a project with that creates an interdisciplinary project.  
Gary says:  it’s ok to think about what you are going to do and plan.  Over time you’ll see that kids are capable of doing things bigger and better.  
A School Master of the Great City
Constructivist Consortium.org

Students who do the most work are the students who are the ones who sometimes don’t usually do it.  It is a win win for all.

Courage–be brave to move into this type of teaching.  Push others and do the right thing.  

Q: was:  How do you get Principals to understand what you are doing in your room during project based learning?  Principal should be a kid watcher and — a kid watcher sees what ‘s happening in the room.  She sees the absolute process that he is engaged in.  


Kids need time to define projects, but Teachers need time to define projects too.  Reflect, refine and reload these projects and do them.  Continue to take the projects from good to great.  Project-based learning takes time, years to get good at this.  

The best project is the one that the kids do not know the anwer.  Meet with like-minded people, but then go back and share, talk and come back to one another and begin.  Transform!


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