Projects provide effective learning experience for students and can be great experience for teachers, too

Edutopia's feature on planning projects


Projects can be a rewarding teaching approaching and a beneficial learning experience. But project-based learning can be challenging for both teachers and students.

Edutopia, a resource of the George Lucas Education Foundation, has posted several helpful articles about “How You Can Do It: Project Learning.”

The series of articles provides excellent tips and advice for teachers for planning projects.

Kathy Baron’s “Six Steps for Planning a Successful Project” describes key parts of planning a project — most of those steps are just what’s involved in student media work:

Step 1: Develop a compelling topic that covers state education standards, connects with the local community, and provides an authentic research opportunity for each student. Student media certainly can do that with each student contributing to the research and creation of a newspaper, yearbook, broadcast or website. Effective student media truly is hyperlocal, focusing on the life of the specific school and community.

Step 2: Develop or design a comprehensive final project. That’s where student media leads the way in project learning — providing a great final project … the student newspaper, the yearbook, and broadcast project, or the student media website. One of the exciting (and challenging aspects) of being a teacher of student media is not only working with the time-tested final projects of student newspapers and yearbooks but incorporating new approaches to media projects, including blogs and podcasts.

Step 3: Involve professional organizations and professionals in the community to connect the academic work with what’s done in the profession. That’s certainly true of most student media — from inviting media professionals to be guest speakers in class to using scholastic press and professional media guidelines and examples.

Step 4: Identify and organize major learning resources to be used for the project. Those who teach journalism classes and advise student media are always looking to add new resources. The Web is a wonderful source of learning resources, including scholastic journalism sites (such as the Journalism Education Association) to Poynter’s NewsU to blogs related to the media (such as Mark Luckie’s 10,000 Words).

Step 5: Coordinate calendars. That’s a must in producing student media. Deadlines, deadlines and deadlines.

Step 6:  Showcase student work for the public or outside of school. Again, student media has that important public sharing built in. That public presentation helps make students (and teachers) more accountable for what is created and also provides students with positive reinforcement beyond the classroom teacher who has made the assignment.

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