- A focal point can add motivation and
interest to a project. For example, a
classroom pet can serve as the center of
attention. A hedgehog
is the focal point in a primary class at
West Elementary School. Students explore
reading, writing, art, music, science, and
social studies within the context of a
- This page will explore how you can
identify focal points in each of the
- Ask students to focus on a person. It
could be a person from the past, present,
or future. Consider famous and infamous
people. You and your students could even
create a fictional character. Then, create
- Oral History
- Life Story
- Career Study
- The example on the right is a slide
show that focuses on an artist.
- Another category is place. Ask students to explore
one of the following areas:
- School, Community, Country
- Historic site
- Natural area
- Career location
- Job site
- The three examples below focus on places.
- Any "thing" an be used as a focal point. Every
small town has a local event or festival. Start here.
Is your town famous for any of the following?
- Once you've identified a topic that students are
interested in learning about, match websites and
resources with concepts that you need to teach such as
nutrition, life cycle, math problems, and
- An issue, topic, or theme can also provide a focal
point. Consider some of the following areas:
- The student project on the topic of Fashion
is a good example of linking art and history.
- A technology can also serve as the focal point for
a project. Keep in mind that it's the information
being communicated by the technology and not the
technology itself that is the focal point! Let's
explore the following four areas:
- Still and Motion Video
- Computer Software
- Documents can bring reading alive for students.
Try some of the following document types. Many of
these can be found on the Internet.
- A group of students created a project called
Sketchpad based on a historic, locally created
sketchpad. They scanned pictures from the sketchpad
and compared the historic sketches with present-day
- Books also make great focal points. Keep in mind
that there are many types of books.
- Picture Books
- Student or Teacher Produced
- When choosing a book as the focal point, you may
wish to use online resources to expand the book's
contents. For example, you could search for
information in each of the following categories.
- Lesson Plans
- Student Projects
- Use software like Inspiration to organize ideas
related to the book. Go to Literature
Ladders to learn more about locating Internet
resources to match your book.
- Video projects are particularly good when trying
to address the multiple intelligences of learners.
Consider videos from each of the following
- Student-Produced Video
- Video Clips
- Popular Movies
- Many popular television programs have online
resources available for use in your classroom. Explore
some of the following program websites:
- Educational software packages can also
be used as the focal point of a project.
Consider problem-solving, decision making,
and simulation packages.
- For example, Tom Snyder Productions
produces many quality decision making
- When using software as a focal point,
be sure that students understand the
desired outcome. Otherwise, the activity
may become a meaningless game rather than
a rich learning environment. A classic
example of this problem is found in the
MECC simulations including Oregon Trail,
MayaQuest and others. Oregon Trail can be
a great way to help students simulate life
during the westward movement as long as
the teacher is a careful guide.
- Focus on Fun!
- The key to a good focal point is motivation. Keep
it fun by focusing on student interest. The theme of
this workshop is based on a children's book titled
The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell. It contains the
- Popular Author
- Then, add websites like the following great diving
- Pearl projects are
coooool! Join the
- Select a focal point from one of the
following categories. Then, discuss what
outcomes might match your curriculum
needs. Finally, brainstorm some project