Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Projects: 3 Ways to Write 'Em Better

Project Writing... Sharing Selfishly!!

I often struggle with writing what I feel is a quality project for my students. However, I also stumble across myself writing one I feel is worth implementing in class. My requirements for what I deem to be a "great project" are pretty simple: 1.  Facilitate learning  2. Fun for the kids to work on  3. Easy to grade objectively (writing a rubric should come naturally with it)

As an accounting teacher, I am not necessarily the most naturally creative person. I want to be, desperately, but I'm realistic and know that it's a challenge for me. So, I have become uber-aware of the times I've "nailed it" (and more often aware of the times I haven't) and have identified three commonalities that have been in place during the development process of these projects. I think they may be the keys to my project writing success. Here they are!! 

1. Promise To Share

Before you start writing the project, commit to giving the finished product to someone else. If you know that other professionals are going to be using your work, you are more motivated to produce a high quality product. Find a person (or group of people) who you know would use it or use some version of it and decide that you WILL share it with them when you are finished. If you are not great at keeping your word to yourself, let them know that you will be sharing the project with them. This will hold you more accountable to sharing it.

2. Write it for Your Own Child

What kind of learning do you want your son / daughter to experience? For me, this is a biggie!! As my son and daughter are getting older, I become more and more aware of learning experiences I'm providing to someone else's sons and daughters. When I focus on whether I'd want my child to be spending their time in school on this, I find a way to cover all three qualities that I think makes a project "great".  If you don't yet have kids (you young whipper snappers out there), think about your niece, nephew, godchild, or whatever kid you absolutely adore.

3. Visualize Yourself Grading Them

Alright, if the first two aren't enough, then think about how awful it is to grade awful projects!! Holy smokes, it made me cringe to just type that last sentence. We've all graded awful projects and those of us who are reflective probably has admitted that it may not have been the best written / developed project we've ever created. Set yourself up for a fun grading (oxymoron?) experience. I have not done any research (and nobody should because it would be a waste of time and money), but I guarantee you that there is a direct correlation between the amount of fun and learning that a student has during a project and the enjoyment the teacher gets from grading it.

I hope this helps your project writing and your students' project experiences! Feel free to post comments and share any projects of yours that you are proud of!

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