A quick list of what a project needs:
- Standards to guide project
- Research with guiding questions
- STEM roles
- Labs with reports including data, data analysis, student opinion, questions, and rubric
- Activities or projects with specific guidelines and a rubric
- Designing a prototype and 3d printing (optional)
- Simple rubrics
- Quick quizzes focused on standards
- Larger assessments reflective of standards
- Opportunity to share with school, community, state, world
Every state has learning standards for almost every subject. The NGSS learning standards website can be found here if you need guidance.
1. Choose a certain number of standards to cover per project and stick to it.
2. Expand on standards/topics you or your students find interesting.
3. Create learning objectives that directly reflect the standards.
4. Formally assess your standards throughout your project
5. Keep track of what standards you have covered completely or partially using a checklist.
You should use your standards to guide you and your students through a topic and to inspire you to expand on areas that peak student interest. Group your standards together in a manner that works best for you. I group mine by Unit, then individual topics, then by which standards I want to expand on and which I will not expand on. After, I decide which groups I want to cover via a project and create project standards checklist. Sometimes, I make a giant project like found here while other times my standards are divided like this and my unit is divided into mini projects like the unit found here.
The expansion part is easy. Several Options include:
-Google the topics and see which topic has the most interesting, new information available.
-Poll your kiddos and ask which topics they want to expand on.
-Pick what you feel will be easiest for you to make into a student led project.
Create objectives that directly reflect the learning standards. EX: TSW (The Student Will) analyze the human reproductive system using a project, research, and a mini lab.
Synthesize assessments that reflect any state or county tests the students will take. I make 5-15 question mini assessments that are given weekly and 35-90 question unit assessments.
Be sure to create a checklist of standards you want to cover per project and check them off at the project addresses them. If you only cover a portion of a standard, make a note so you can cover the material at a later time or through a different project. Be sure the length of your project is in proportion to the number of standards you are covering. For me, if a project takes two weeks, I know I need to cover a minimum of 5 standards in order maintain my timeline. Remember, number of standards varies per subject and grade, so you may be teaching multiple standards per day.
Research paired with meaningful questions that reflect your standards is imperative. Research provides students with background information and ideas. You need to synthesize questions to accompany the research that also reflect direct concepts you need to cover. For instance, If I am teaching a unit that covers water properties, I will have my students read this article and have them:
A. draw a model of water
B. Differentiate hydrophobic and hydrophilic
C. How does graphene mesh relate to water properties?
D. Predict how your generation could benefit from this nanotechnology
Questions A and B reflect standards and questions C and D are elaborations on the topic.
The article above is a stretch from this water unit.
Where do I get my research? I sometimes use this list or I Google the topic and sort through the results.
You need to make guiding questions to accompany all research. I use HOTS type questions by using words from a list like this.
You can also reach out to professionals and skype them as a from of research. Be sure to have your students prepare questions ahead of time.
Twitter has also been key in providing a endless resources. Search hashtags that pertain to your topic and various research articles, websites, activities, etc. will come up. Favorite or retweet them with a shout out to the author as a means of compiling research.
An example of utilizing research for learning can be found under day 4 here.
3. STEM roles
4. Lab set up
Student teams are designed to fulfill all STEM roles and EDP are applied and understood when designing labs and projects. You can edit your roles and can write specific notes on how each job applies to specific projects.
I highly recommend implementing STEM Roles from this lesson when introducing STEM roles.
Most PBL labs are inquiry-filled labs. The students are responsible for:
The students need to be sure they are creating a procedure with a goal in mind. This means you need to provide a goal, background information, a list of supplies, and probing questions.The skeleton for any lab can be found at
Lab Set up.
Projects should have a varity of:
Simple Project Example below:
Establish Team Positions then: Use this website and this rubric to make a 5-7 minute skit of Mendel's life and discoveries. Be sure to address how Mendel's Law of Segregation and Law of Independent Assortment are used to analyze inheritance patterns. Include a digital piece and a physical model of his pea experiments. You will be sharing this with another team next class period.
Major Project Example here.
6. 3D prototype
1. Develop a real world problem appropriate for your students.
Ex: How can humans reduce negative impacts on the Florida Everglades?
Inspiration from NASA for real world questions.
2. Turn the question into an assignment that includes a 3D prototype and research.
EX: 3D design a machine or apparatus you feel can help combat negative human impact on the everglades. See article for more information.
3. Add conditions to your assignment.
Ex: You will need to provide an explanation of your design, estimated costs of production, and potential short and long term effects on the native plant and animal species. Display answers using a digital piece.
4. Design a grading rubric.
7. Simple Rubrics
I like to make simple rubrics with heavy weighting on the most important parts of the project. Part of the rubric is proof the students worked successfully in a group and tracked their progress. I write detailed comments on the rubrics.
Have your students: Work with your team to determine how everyone will manage one STEM position as well as work as a team. How will progression and reliability be tracked during labs and projects? Quality versus Quantity of work must be measured on a time chart.
I highly suggest making a variety of Assessments and providing sample assessments as practice, especially if you have an EOC or equivalent high stakes test to prepare for. I almost always attach practice assessments to my lessons along with learning standards as seen below:
Example from Mendelian Genetics:
Take all practice quizzes 1-6 below on sheets of paper. Do corrections- state why the correct answer is correct for every question missed. You will be turning this in.
Practice Quiz 1 Practice Quiz 2 Practice Quiz 3
Practice Quiz 4 Practice Quiz 5 Practice Quiz 6
Practice Cumulative Exam
10. SHaring knowledge with others
- Be open to social media as a means for students to share if your school approves
- Allow your students to email information to industry and cc you
- Pair up with another school and/or class at your school
- Invite supervisors, principals, etc. into your classroom
Last step: Share your lesson with someone who could benefit (research a commercial breeder or beef company) via email or social media. find contacts here and here. Make sure you tell them that you are high school students sharing your knowledge with the public as part of a STEM project concerning solving real world problems. You can also include our class website link http://rhspreib.weebly.com/mendelian-genetics.html. If you email someone, cc firstname.lastname@example.org if you tweet, include @thepracticaledu
Example Sharing Method 2:
MAKE A SKIT, ANTIBULLYING AD, OR OTHER SHORT VIDEO TO ACCOMPANY YOUR DIGITAL PIECE, UPLOAD TO YOUTUBE, AND SEND MRS. W THE LINK. I WILL BE SENDING THE VIDEOS, DIGITAL PIECE, AND 3D PRINTED DESIGNS TO OUR AREA SCHOOLS.