Expanding Projects:
Collaborative, Generative, and Interactive Environments
One way to expand projects beyond "basic levels" is to add a collaborative, generative, or interactive elements. Make a traditional linear project, PowerPoint presentation or web page more meaningful, engaging, and high level through expanding the environment.
Transforming Projects
Expanding Projects
Exploring Complexity
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Collaborative Projects
Consider projects where students can work independently, then combine their work with others to create a larger project. Sometimes the sum can be greater than the parts. For example, explore the art project. Each student could work on a different artist, then compare and contrast them. In the museum project, each student worked on different elements and came together to create an online museum.
Generative Projects
Generative projects are often collaborative, ongoing projects that involve multiple ways of sharing. These projects are motivating for students because they know that their work with be valuable to others in the future. They are generating something larger than they could on their own. You might develop a class database of information from a nature park. This project could take a semester, year, or multiple years with each student and class extending the work of students before them. Ongoing recycling results, sports statistics, and oral history project are others that generate more and more content over time. Check out the Veteran's Oral History project, the Monster Exchange, and Book Review website. Check out some other examples of generative projects:
Interactive Projects
Get students involved with designing interactive environments for others. Students might design audience participation such as asking questions, calling for feedback, or requesting ideas or pictures. Students enjoy creating interactive games, quizzes, and simulations for others. Building questions requires students to think about the content as they develop the questions for others. Teach students the difference between low and high level thinking questions. Polls, surveys, and other kinds of data collection projects are a great way to get students to interact with others. Check out the following ideas:
Expanding Projects
Weather Folklore provides a great example for expanding projects. Students can ask local people about the weather folklore and create oral histories. Each semester, students could add to the collection. They could then look for the science in the weather folklore and share their ideas in text and visual ways.

Evaluation is a critical component of technology-rich projects. Rubrics, checklists, recorded observations, notes, comments, and sounds can all be used for student project evaluation. Teacher Tap: Student Projects contains lots of ideas for student project evaluation. If you'd like to create rubrics, try Rubistar or the Project-based learning checklist. Consider putting comments about projects directly into technology-rich projects. For example, you can record audio and text notes in PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Kidspiration.


Idea: Provide Variety

As you explore student project, consider how students can be consumers, creators, and collaborators. They might use a variety of materials such as books and Internet. They can write reports, but also build presentations, Inspiration documents, and web pages. For example, a project on Eleanor Roosevelt might start with the book by Russell Freedman and include the New Deal website, PBS special, and ThinkQuest projects. As students develop their own materials, ask yourself what your students might have to contribute to the world. What could they do that goes beyond copying? What creative activities will be motivating and meaningful?


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Created by Annette Lamb, 02/01.