TEACHING WITH PROJECTS
Written by Nancy Mikhail
Projects are a great way to help students learn and most importantly, retain information. Typically, projects include various content areas to reach the main objectives and/or standards. For example, say the topic of a project is learning about Native Americans. In one, comprehensive project, we can include history (of course), writing, math, science, and art. All of these mini activities and projects could lend themselves to teach about Native Americans. For instance, students could create tools that the Native Americans used (art), then measure the distance of how far they could shoot an arrow from a bow (math) and for the science portion, students could research the anatomy of the different shelters the Native Americans built. They could learn which ones were better built and why.
When working on a project, students are researching, working on various activities and mini projects which all help retain information and apply it. Moreover, when students reteach the content through explanation, presentations, and applying information, they are even more likely to retain information. The more they are exposed to the information, the more it will be ingrained in their memories. Based on an article by Youki Terada, he says that “When students explain what they’ve learned to peers, fading memories are reactivated, strengthened, and consolidated. This strategy not only increases retention, but also encourages active learning” (Terada, 2017).
Working on projects also helps promote interest and active learning. “Studies comparing learning outcomes for students taught via project-based learning versus traditional instruction show that when implemented well, PBL increases long-term retention of content, helps students perform as well as or better than traditional learners in high-stakes tests, improves problem-solving and collaboration skills, and improves students’ attitudes toward learning” (Strobel & van Barneveld, 2009; Walker & Leary, 2009). The curriculum developers at Build-A-Project also implement the specific interests of the students when creating projects. For instance, if students enjoy art the most, the curriculum developers will be sure to include high-level art projects. If the student is more science-minded, the developers will be sure to include some sort of physics, biology, or chemistry.
In addition to the many reasons learning through projects is so beneficial, it helps students think more critically and analytically. “A 2016 MDRC/Lucas Education Research literature review found that the design principles most commonly used in PBL align well with the goals of preparing students for deeper learning, higher-level thinking skills, and intra/interpersonal skills” (Condliffe et al., 2016). When students work on projects, they are working through problems, constantly making decisions when working on their projects, and applying their knowledge.
Build-A-Project creates customizes projects for homeschool students. It can be about any topic and our curriculum developers will find a way to include interactive activities and lessons to reach the main objective. We also have ready-made engaging projects here.