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Managing Messy Learning
October 23, 2014 | Volume 10 | Issue 4
Table of Contents
Minimize Frustration and Maximize Deep Learning
Picture this: I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room watching my latest inspired project go up in metaphorical flames. We've been working on the project for two weeks, and at this point, everyone involved (including me) wishes that I had never had the idea. The project I had first envisioned had been so clear and enticing. But now, as I glance around at the apathy, frustration, and substandard work, I just want to beat my head against the wall. Where did it all go wrong? The above scenario is a common experience that many teachers can relate to. Project-based learning is an enticing concept because of its promises and potential. As we move through the Information Age, many educators believe that teachers should concentrate on crucial concepts rather than memorizing facts and students should use critical-thinking skills to build their own understanding and transfer skills and knowledge to authentic situations. But this reality is hard to create. Often, a project seems like the answer to a prayer, but without careful planning, it can quickly lead to curses and frustration.
Here are several practical steps I've found that help minimize frustration and maximize deep learning.
Although projects can be valuable, authentic assessments for the classroom, management is the key to success. Designing small, clear projects that are chunked out and have multiple opportunities for feedback will lead to deeper student learning and achievement.
Andrea Pless is a science and social studies teacher in Jefferson County, Colo., with 17 years of experience. Visit her class site.
ASCD Express, Vol. 10, No. 4. Copyright 2014 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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