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Project Ideas to Empower 21st Century Learners

July 11, 2017

 

"Looking back, I don't remember what content I was taught, but I do remember certain educational experiences." 

                                                     -Mister Kelly

One day, as I shared some strategies for integrating technology with a teacher, she asked me, "How will this help my kids perform better on the test at the end of the year?" To be honest, this question slightly infuriated me. The main reason being that far too many educators focus on this testing and drilling students with content so that they can remember it for a test, but often times don't spend time allowing students to interact with the content and most importantly, with each other. My response to her was, "If they can understand and master the content well enough to create a product to teach others, then that far exceeds any data that any multiple-choice test can give you." 

 

I truly believe that students should become creators of content rather than just consumers of it. Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical thinking are the 21st Century Skills that today's students will need to have to be successful in the future. There is no reason that teacher's cannot incorporate these 21st Century Skills into their curriculum. Not only is this allowing students to deepen their understanding of the content, but it also prepares them for the future while providing them with experiences that they will remember. Below are some ideas of projects that students can do to enhance their learning experience while incorporating 21st Century skills and technology.

Presentation Link: https://goo.gl/uuEYrJ

1. Build A Website: Both teachers and students worldwide access websites in search of information about a given topic. Why not allow students to create their own websites focused on the content? They would then become teachers of the world! Be sure to watch out for those "Copy and Pasters" though.

 

2. Create A Video: With the rise of platforms like YouTube and Khan Academy, instructional videos are at our fingertips in abundance. I always tell people that if they ever want to know how to do something, there's a YouTube video out there for it. Students can create their own instructional videos, commercials, movies, or any other types of videos focused on the content.

 

3. Creating Flyers/Posters/Infographics: Turn your students into graphic designers by allowing them to create flyers, posters, or infographics. With the help of the tools here, students can create professional looking work focused on the content. Then you can print it and use them to decorate your classroom.

 

4. Hyperdocs: Really just a fancy term given to what we've been doing already, hyperdocs allows students to curate information on one document through inserting hyperlinks into the document.

 

5. Presentation: We all know that PowerPoint and Google Slides presentations for direct instruction is an extremely old-school method. However, why not give students the opportunity to collaborate together for a quick assessment of their understanding by having them create the presentation to teach you?

 

6. Creating A Game: In many classes, game-based tools like Kahoot! and Quizizz are being used to assess students in a more engaging way. Why not allow students to create their own educational games? Students get more excited about a game when they are the creators of it.

 

7. Designing in 3-D: This is perfect for the school or classroom with a 3-D Printer, but also works great if you don't. One example from a fourth grade teacher this past year was focused on area and perimeter. Students had to design their dream house. They started off on graph paper and then proceeded to designing the houses using Tinkercad on their Chromebooks. They voted on the best design from each class and we printed each winning design using our school's 3-D printer.

 

8. Design in Virtual Reality: Virtual Reality is an amazing development that I'm excited the educational world is embracing. It gives students the opportunity to explore places that they otherwise would not be able to. CoSpaces has created an extraordinary product that allows students to create their own scenes in Virtual Reality.

 

9. Create Through Coding: There are many different programs out now to help students learn the basic fundamentals of coding. One example of how coding can be utilized in the classroom is through digital story-telling. One station that I created in my school's MakerSpace this past school year was a Digital Story-Telling station. In this station, students would collaboratively write stories and include the story elements (Setting, Characters, Plot, Conflict, and Resolution). They would then take their story and proceed to Scratch to program their story. They could create the setting and make the characters move and talk in order to create a visual representation of their story. (CLICK HERE to see the student guide for this activity)

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