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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Promos of Instructional Videos for Teachers About Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

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NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Project-Based Learning
Carolyn Hornik

Do want your students to find relevance in the material you are teaching? Do you want students to be actively involved learners? Do you want students to work cooperatively on performance-based projects? Do you want students to develop higher order thinking and problem-solving skills? Do you want to integrate multi-curriculum areas into your creative thematic units? Do you want to assimilate multimedia components into your units? Do you want your units to reflect student based, self-directed learning?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are ready to create project-based learning units for your students.

In project-based learning students work in cooperative groups. As students complete steps toward a challenging, culminating project, they are able to see a purpose and real-life relevance to what is being taught. Successful completion of the project demonstrates that students have synthesized the information taught and can apply what they learned.

Because work is done in cooperative groups, students are able to help each other and rely on their academic strengths as they contribute to the group’s progress in completing the culminating project. The teacher facilitates the learning process by providing guidelines, helping students develop focus questions, modeling note taking and organizational techniqes, and providing materials.

How can a teacher create a project-based unit? Consider a concept and set of skills, and tasks associated with that concept. Draw in lessons that involve research, literature, writing, social studies, science, math, computer technology, art, music, class trips, guest speakers, (from the business community, museums, parent community) and experts. Hundreds of project-based units can be found at www.teachersnetwork.org/TeachNet. As you examine the TeachNet units, you’ll notice that many curriculum areas are integrated into each thematic unit.

WebQuests are online project-based units in which the resources needed to complete the task are linked to the unit. Concrete, hands on and first hand experiences are included to engage students and keep them actively involved in the learning process. Show examples of completed standard setting, student projects and discuss possible ways of planning a project.

A KWL chart may be used to elicit what students already know about the unit being introduced. Elicit what students want to know. This should be an inquiry-based unit. Model note taking procedures. This will eliminate plagiarism. A database or chart with focus questions can be developed by students. As students progress through the information gathering or research stage of the unit, they can complete the database or chart with answers to the focus questions. Graphic organizers may also be used to record information found through research.

It is a good idea, when using web sites, to provide a listing of appropriate sites that are prescreened by the teacher. This also enables the teacher to provide sites that take into account the variety of reading levels of the students. Depending on the grade level of the students, you may want students to search for web sites on their own. It would still be a good idea to screen and approve the sites chosen by students. Model ways in which to organize information so that it is ready to be included in the designated project. Model strategies for editing and revision of written work. Create a time table for each step of the project. This will help to keep students on track. Have each cooperative group keep a checklist of each step of the project so that as each component of the project is completed, it can be noted. Students would also be able to view, at a glance, what components of the project are yet to be completed.

Have students include illustrations, photographs, and musical elements. Presentation software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Knowledge Adventure Hyperstudio, and E-Books Flip Album, or web authoring software, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Microsoft FrontPage can be used to integrate text, art, photography, and music into a presentation. SmartBoards can be used as a presentation device in which interactive elements for the presenter and the viewers are available. Including interactive, multimedia elements works can involve and motivate both the creators and the viewers of the presentation. Brainstorm ideas with students for a project rubric. Go over the rubric, periodically, so that students always know what is expected of them. This will also serve to allow students to assess the work of each presenting group.

As stated by Sylvia Chard, author of Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach, “We need to be able to ask questions of a person we’re learning from. We need to be able to link what the person is telling us with what we already know. And we need to be able to bring what we already know and experiences we’ve had that are relevant to the topic to the front of our minds and say something about them.”

Project-based units result in students who are excited about what they are learning; the units help students probe deeper into the topic, retain the information to a greater degree, and synthesize the information so as to be able to apply the information to other situations. These students also develop positive socialization skills and learn to work cooperatively and in collaboration with others. In addition, “Research supports the use of project-based learning in schools as a way to engage students, cut absenteeism, boost cooperative learning skills, and improve test scores. Those benefits are enhanced when technology is used in a meaningful way in the projects.”

Related Resources:
Project Based Learning: At A Glance

Project Based Learning Research

Project Based Learning With Multimedia

Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning

Project-Based Learning: a Primer

Criteria for Authentic Project-Based Learning

Why Do Project-Based Learning

Project based learning checklists


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