Surviving the Dive
Surviving your dive for pearl projects requires careful planning and effective classroom management strategies. This section will explore tips for teacher and students.

Teacher Tips
Don't get tied up. Teach students self-responsibility and self-direction.

Try the following two techniques:

  • Each one teach one
  • Ask three before me

Let's take a first grade classroom that traditionally writes stories using paper and pencil. The teacher has four computers in the classroom. She starts by teaching four children to write their stories using Claris for Kids. On the second day, these same four children teach four more students the procedures involved in writing their stories using Claris for Kids. By the end of the week, all the students are able to complete the assignment and they've had the experience of review and peer teaching.

Claris for Kids
The "Best Uses"
Make the most of a piece of software.
  • Ask other teachers for ideas for using the software.
  • Do a web search for the title of the software.
  • Use pieces or sections of the software rather than the entire package.
  • Repurpose the software. Use science software for a writing activity.
For example, if you do a web search for Tom Snyder's Timeliner, you'll find lots of ways to use the software in your classroom. You can also link to many good timeline examples such as Alaska Gold Rush Timeline. You might even find a classroom somewhere else in the world that might be interested in sharing timelines.
Think "Starters

Provide students with simple ways to start their project. For example, you could provide a template, picture, or problem. Amazing Writing Machine provides lots of these starters by "spinning" an essay, letter, story, poem, or journal.

Think "Student Perspective"
  • What do your students like or dislike?
  • What are your students' interests?
For example in the Culver Hero Project, students learned about local heroes such as the high school football team.
Amazing Writing Machine
Provide Blocks of Time
Be realistic about the time that projects will require. If it's took short, students will not complete the project. If it's too long, you might waste valuable class time. Think about the amount of time that it takes the highest and lowest level students to complete the project.
Help students see their progress visually. Create a bulletin board area, make a class list or concept map, or print out project progress and post it on the wall. Use a timeline to show the time that has passed and the amount still available to finish.
Be specific about requirements. Chunk your larger project into smaller activities with specific time limits. Require progress reports and also help students stay on task.
For example, the Water Usage project contains a well-established, easy to follow timeline.
Don't Get Trapped
As a teacher, it's easy to get trapped in the computer area of your classroom. Create directions for each activity so that students will be more self-directed. When using Internet, give students good starters. For example, the 42explore project gives students at least 4 good starting points on topics such as Animal Tracks.
Be Prepared
Project management is critical. Use tools such as the software package Inspiration, a bulletin board, or flip chart paper for organization. This might even be transformed into your core page of a web project. For example, the Terry the Prairie Dog project uses a visual map to introduce different sections of their project.
Model Good Projects
Provide students with lots of models and examples. The example on the right is a sample HyperStudio project based on a children's book by VanAllsburg. By showing a model, students can be directed to create a more nonlinear project.
Think ahead
Be ready with links, resources, disks, paper, and project ideas.
Make it Fun
Provide students with:
  • Cool website
  • Fun clipart
  • Interesting problem
For example, Find A Grave is an interesting website that leads students to information about the graves of famous people.
Think "simple"
Ask yourself:
  • Do you really need technology?
  • How will technology enhance the lesson?
  • Is it worth the time?

For example, a group of students were reading mystery books. The traditional assignment was to create a short mystery skit. The teacher decided to use the software package Opening Night rather than the traditional skit format. The teacher found that the students were so caught up in the animation and movement of characters that they forgot the "writing" part of the mystery. A simpler package such as Storybook Weaver may have worked just as well for the activity.

Opening Night
Start with a Question
Who are all these dead guys? I wonder where they buried... Then, find a website or software package to help answer the question. The student project, Land of the Dead focuses on people in the local cemetery.
Jump In
Look for simple, concrete, active projects, and directions. Then, do it! For example, the Chemistry Projects are a great way to provide a fun way to involve your students in simple projects. In the Stain Project, students are provided with the directions needed to create and share a science project.
Dog Paddle
Use what you have. Start with one technology or resource. For example, start with a CD such as Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature or any other Eyewitness series product. Use it as a starting point for your habitat project.
Mix Subjects
Rather that focus on a specific subject area, focus on concepts. These often overlap content areas. For example, mix:
  • Science & Music
  • Art & Social Studies
  • Math & Writing
  • Reading & Health
The Energy in the Air project mixed science and music.
Eyewitness Encyclopedia of Nature 2.0
Prepare for Sharks
When it comes to the Internet, don't protect, prepare! There are websites containing materials that are inappropriate for your grade level in the areas of reading level, content, and interest. Carefully preselect quality sites.
Be Flexible
Don't get trapped in a project that's not working. Try failing forward. On other words, learn from your mistakes. Try creative swapping. Look for other teachers who might be doing similar projects and ask for ideas.
Find some help!
There are many websites that focus on designing effective, engaging learning environments. For more ideas, check out their websites:

Dive for Pearls

Staying Afloat
Share a tip for project management.
  • classroom
  • technology
  • team building
  • information organization

Student Tips

Focus on ideas that will help students be successful in their projects. Don't be afraid to try something different.
  • new friends
  • new places
  • new ideas
  • new learning
Start by exploring projects that others have developed at places such as ThinkQuest and CyberFair.
Start Quick
Give students:
  • backgrounds
  • clip art
  • photos
For example, the Mining Company WebClip Art project provides links to dozens of great online clipart sites. Students could use the Egyptian Art site to find visuals for their word processing projects.
Many software packages contain great backgrounds and clipart. For example, KidPix Deluxe contains backgrounds that students can use in their projects.
Show Others
  • Teach a skill
  • Demonstrate an action
  • Share an idea
In the Knots project, students show others how to create knots.
Convince Others
Get kids to hook others into the project:
  • advertise
  • share
  • persuade
  • convince
Students created a ThinkQuest project called Children's Creative Theatre. This project provides information about theatre, but also tries to convince readers that their should do a project.

Communicate Ideas
Take only pictures, leave only splashes (or footprints as the case may be). Provide tools such as audio, video, and digital cameras, so students can record their ideas.
Imitate life
Encourage students to imitate real-world environments:
  • TV programs
  • Books
  • Movie takeoffs
The Aloha Paradise Network student project uses television show parodies to teach about the environment.
Involve Project Users
Ask students to go beyond providing information. Encourage them to involve the audience in their project. In other words, users could:
  • Add to a list
  • Write a story
  • Answer questions
  • Send pictures
  • Take a quiz
  • Add to database
In the Bay Kids Weather project and the Science of Snow project, students involve readers in the topic.
Lead the Way
Try something new and different with your school or your community. Ask students to take action by saving a building or cleaning a park. For example, the Nature Trail project involves students in a local nature preserve.
Ask students to become involved in self-evaluation and peer-evaluation. Evaluators could include:
  • peers
  • teachers
  • parents
  • community

Dive for Pearls

Staying Afloat
Share a tip for project starters. Do you provide…?
  • resources
  • models
  • starters
  • directions
  • assessment