Do the project first!

In June of this year I was lucky enough to attend the Cramlington Learning Festival, something I’ve already mentioned here.

One of the sessions I attended was led by the inspiring Darren Mead, who shared his Project Based Learning mantra with us: “Do the project first”. In other words, if you’re going to set a project for students to complete then we as teachers should be trying it first and showing this to the students at the outset. Darren showed us one he’d done. Whilst it was impressive that he’d gone and spent all that time making his project, one of the things that really surprised me at the time was that it wasn’t perfect – at one point his young son was doing the camera work! On reflection, I think this is fantastic. It would be potentially devasting to show the students unobtainable perfection and then ask them to try to do their own projects…

As we’re redesigning our S2 courses currently, we’ve been trying to diversify the opportunities for learning and assessment – and using these to help engage the students in the topic. For example, in our new Genetics & Reproduction topic we’re planning to ask our students to produce a documentary aimed at couples who are planning to try for a baby at the end of the topic. We’re going to share this task with them at the start of the topic, but use this to structure the actual lessons:

The six questions in the list slide provide the titles of each of the lessons in the topic. But, since Darren’s session I’d been thinking…should we be trying this first? Should we have a go at producing the documentary and ask the pupils to assess it before we start the topic…so a colleague and I went for it – remember, it’s a long way from perfection – but deliberately so…

We’ll let you know how it goes…

[Cross-posted from]

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