Open Discussion Forum

Topic: What do you think about the project approach?

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  • Diversity and Equity Education for Adults Interest Forum

1.  What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 8 days ago
In this article, Implementing the Project Approach in an Inclusive Classroom a teacher wrote about her experience with the project approach. What's worked for you? Any lessons learned for next time?

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Benjamin Planton
Infant Toddler Outcome Specialist - Partnerships for Early Learners
NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council
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2.  RE: What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 8 days ago
Project learning is very powerful for children. It invites collaboration, conversation, process, design and critical thinking even with young children. It is organic. The glitch? Teachers have a hard time letting go and stepping aside, it's a bit of a challenge until they see the beauty of invention. 2nd to that is an allowance for "failure". Adults think with a goal in mind. They know too much. Children try multiple solutions thru process. They are naturals at it. Did you ever watch young children build with blocks? They can spend hours, collaborating, discussing, trying different designs. They are deeply involef in process. Once the structure is complete they move quickly on to something else. If you or a teacher wants to move in that direction, start with small activities and move into projects. Instant challenges are great for this and help the teacher learn to step back and celebrate what they see.

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Jillianne Steelman
Founder]
Wild Things - pre k-3, 4
Play in Nature to encourage curiosity and wonder
Morristown Nj 07960
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3.  RE: What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 4 days ago
Great question. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Sylvia Chard, one of the creators of the Project Approach and participate in several small workshops with Dr. Lillian Katz, also one of the creators of the Project Approach or Project based learning.  I found, working with teachers, it is a great way to provide the children with the opportunity to explore their surroundings in a structured way that  is tied to scientific method to approaching a question of interest.

I had the good fortune to design an Early Childhood Education Institute, at the state level, for adults working with young children as a way to study Academic Standards, when they were first introduced in the states, and think about how to connect the Standards to developmentally appropriate practices and experiences for young children. I found the adults love the steps involved in the project approach and the final products presented to everyone at the Institute was quite amazing and inspiring. I found the small workgroups of teachers were motivated and engaged in the steps of the project approach and worked well into the night, during the week we were together.

Now, as a Coach for Pre-k teachers, I find the project approach makes sense to the teachers and provides them with the opportunity to stay with a topic of interest to the children rather than their planning seperate, sometimes disconnected activities, for the children.


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Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
Better Futures LLC
Senior Consultant
Washington, DC
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4.  RE: What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 4 days ago
In reading the article I thought that perhaps the culminating project felt forced because it had already happened.  The author reported that children drew detailed pictures of places they had been to record what they had seen, one carefully built what he had seen with clay, others built scaffolding with blocks.  All of those activities were elements of an organic culminating project, which was probably why it felt forced to do an official culminating project.

I wonder if talking about the collection of things the children had created to represent their learning and sharing the collection with others (instead of working at something that felt inauthentic) would have been more interesting for the students and would have provided enough of a "culminating project" example that they would have had a foundation of experience for the next time around.

In my own classroom I find that the biggest challenge in the project approach is finding a subject that is engaging for 20 students.  It happens once in a while, but this year I'm thinking of trying more of a team (or small group) approach so that children who share interests can work more closely together.  The question is how to make this work within our classroom structure.  I'm looking for examples...

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Dianne Rose
Hunters Woods Cooperative Preschool
Reston VA
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5.  RE: What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 4 days ago
I used project approach for almost ten years in my classroom. It was always interesting to observe the children and find something that peeked their interest. It never started off with all of them being curious about the same thing, but as the project grew more and more of them became in engaged. It offered rich hands on experiences that they children remembered from year to year (in my case I could have children for 1-2.5 years). We would often do the same project from year to year. The children that had already experienced it once would build on the knowledge they already had and ask more complex questions that often took the project in a completely different direction then it had previously gone.
I feel like a lot of times project approach is confused for thematic units. For schools new to project approach I definitely think someone that is experienced would be a valuable asset to them. Someone that could mentor them through the different phases and help to answer questions that will inevitably come up along the way. As the staff become more comfortable they then will be able to mentor any new staff as they learn project approach.

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Cecilia Mintz
Early Childhood Resource Specialist
Illinois
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6.  RE: What do you think about the project approach?

Posted 4 days ago
Thank you all for your responses! I love the focus in so many of your answers on the perspectives of the children and teachers.

I love this very telling quote from the article - "One girl asked, "Why are there lines on this glue stick?" I took her question seriously and responded, "I don't know, let's find out." She was completely engaged from that moment, and we made a plan to research her question. We decided to open her glue stick and look inside. She hadn't expected me to embrace her question, much less suggest a firsthand experience of discovery in which I allowed the destruction of the glue stick to honor her curiosity."

Cecilia, maybe you could connect with Dianne and offer some suggestions!


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Benjamin Planton
Infant Toddler Outcome Specialist - Partnerships for Early Learners
NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council
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