I love projects!
As far as Iâ€™m concerned, there is no better way to teach any concept than by having students participate in authentic hands-on, project-based learning. One wonderful aspect of projects is having an interdisciplinary array of curricula represented. Students can practice mathematics, science, language arts, social studies and fine arts skills, all in one project!
However, there is always the question of: â€œDid the students learn the content?â€ We have to know beforehand that this content meets the educational standards. So, when creating an online project, begin by realizing that implementing National and State standards into your project is not only easy, itâ€™s the best way to teach!
Before teaching anything, take the time to go through and read the educational standards. Do you know them? Do you even know where to find them? At the end of this article I have listed many links to help you find educational standards.
Once you know where to find the standards, read them. Itâ€™s not as bad as you think. You have to correlate your lessons to education standards, donâ€™t you? Of course, you do!
Donâ€™t count on other teachers or text books to help you. They might, but are they enough? Learn the standards that are relevant to your curriculum. There arenâ€™t as many standards as you might think, either.They are also usually concise, and very simply worded.
The second step in implementing standards into a project is knowing what your project is trying to teach. What is the main goal of your project? How does this main goal fit into other curriculums? For example, if you are researching local neighborhoods (a history project) and the students are required to write an essay, then you know that this project will probably fit into Language Arts standards, as well as Social Studies standards.
Before writing the lessons for the project, read the standards. The goal of any lesson is to teach the education standards. And the goal of aligning standards is not to make the standards fit your lesson, but to make your lesson fit the standards.
I teach technology, so my main goal in creating projects is to meet certain NETS (National Education Technology Standards). I always try to read them again, at the beginning of each school year. I also look at the other disciplines, and see how they involve technology into their standards. I was surprised by how many Sunshine State Standards (Fl. Education Standards) are technology based, but are considered Language Arts or Science. Or even Health! You will be surprised at how many concepts are actually cross-curricular.
I also check out Student Performance Standards (for Career Education). My next step when planning a project is thinking about what concepts that I want to teach. When wanting to teach a history project (one of my loves) I go through and look at the social studies education standards, BEFORE thinking about lessons.
This year, I created two new projects — one is more social studies/language arts, and the other is more science. I spent many days reading standards. After I felt confident about what I wanted to teach, then I wrote lessons.
There are statistics to back up the use of Standards based learning. Have you heard of NAEP, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as "the Nation's Report Card? The NCES web site dedicated to NAEP discusses it as being:
"the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts."
NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools; instead, it offers results regarding subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., fourth-graders) and subgroups of those populations (e.g., female fourth-graders, Hispanic fourth-graders, etc.). Results have been reported for students at ages 9, 13, and 17 in mathematics, reading, and science and grades 4, 8, and 11 in writing.
Since I teach middle school, I am most interested in eighth grade scores, and according to the NAEP, all eighth-grade National percentiles except the 90th showed a higher score in 2003 than in 1992. Average mathematics scores of both fourth- and eighth-grade students were higher in 2003 than in all the previous assessment years since 1990.
For National Standards, start with ISTE-NETS, for International Society for Technology in Education - National Education Technology Standards. Visit their Curriculum and Content-Area Standards.
ISTE also has standards — leaning towards technology — in:
And there are other sources, such as: The Eighteen National Geography Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts
Science Content Standards
Standards for School Mathematics
For those teachers in Florida, thereâ€™s Sunshine State Standards For other state standards, you might try Scholasticâ€™s Standards-based Learning in Your Classroom with clickable links for each state.
And here are links to the published standards pages for three of my projects:
Looking for Dark Skies
Take Someone to Dinner
Listening to the Walls Talk
Email: Rosemary Shaw