Free – Projects, portfolios and more for creative educators

Last week I mentioned the article What Makes a Good Project? Eight elements to great project design by Gary Stager in the Creative Educator magazine.

I hope you had a chance to look at the whole Creative Educator magazine, because it’s great. It’s published twice a year by Tech4Learning, publisher of creativity software for K-12 schools

The Creative Educator is fully available online, and in addition to the project article, this month’s issue has some great articles.

  • Universal design – tales from a 4th grade classroom about using software that includes ALL students
  • Bloom and Marzano for the 21st century
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Portfolios – and an interview with Helen Barrett, a pioneer and thought-leader of the digital portfolio movement
  • Lessons and ideas from classroom teachers using creativity software to enhance learning

The articles are all online, and every issue can be downloaded as a PDF.


What Makes a Good Project?

The Creative Educator magazine is running first of a two-part article on project- based learning by Gary Stager and illustrated by Peter Reynolds.

What Makes a Good Project? covers eight elements of projects that make them worth doing:

  • Purpose and relevance
  • Sufficient time
  • Complexity
  • Intensity
  • Connected to others
  • Access to materials
  • Shareable
  • Novelty

Stager concludes with questions teachers can ask themselves to improve the design of project-based learning experiences for students.

Project-based learning does take extra work to design and implement, but the results are worth it for everyone involved. So if you make the effort, it’s worth doing it right. As Stager says, “Making things is better than being passive, but making good things is even better!”

Update – Part 2 of this article is now online!  Part 2: What Makes a Good Project

A trip to Open Space!

Well, it seems like I just got back from T+L in Seattle and I’m off again.

First to Chester County in Pennsylvania where I’ll be meeting with several schools about our student technology programs. One of their districts, Coatesville, will be using TechYES Science for student tech literacy certification using science projects. I’m looking forward to meeting up with some PA friends as well.

Then a couple of stops in New Jersey and on to New York. I’m honored to be a featured speaker at the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Educational Information Technology Conference, NEIT 2008.

“NEIT 2008 is an unconference planned for technologists and librarians. Our unconference relies on the open space technology for creating workshops, discussions, breakout groups, etc.”

This is the first time I’ve heard of open space technology. Wikipedia describes it as a method of self-organizing that can be applied to gatherings of any size to quickly tackle complex issues. It sounds a bit like FutureSearch, which I’m more familiar with, but definitely something worth knowing about!

The EdTechTalk podcast this week featured a conversation about the plans and goals for the NYSAIS event.

Plus, this conference is at the beautiful Mohonk Mountain House and you can’t beat that for open space!


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Student-written help guides

Kern Kelley’s students in Maine have created a web-enabled comic book style help guide for the Google Doc applications they are using. Kern blogs at The Tech Curve about his students involved in student-centered ways to use technology.

This is a terrific project for students, and useful for a school! Since you create it yourself, students can add customized details about your server and network, remind readers about the Acceptable Use Policies, and make suggestions for using these tools.

I’ve blogged about student-created video help guides before, and all the reasons that these are terrific projects for students. These comic-book creations are another idea to accomplish the same goals!