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Why Are Projects Useful?
Projects teach students about teamwork and socialization skills. They can also teach students how to set goals and work toward them. Creating project-based learning goals capture the students' interest so at the end of the project they have assimilated the unit lessons. For instance, if a student wrote a paper concerning themes in Julius Caesar, an appropriate learning goal might be for 'the student to identify three themes and explain their direct connection to Julius Caesar.'
Goals should be specific and measurable. Students or teachers can decide "learning goals." However, when students create them, they hold more meaning. Students are more likely to work toward them and find success when their self-made goals are realized. The teacher's job then focuses on helping the students focus on project content and delivery.
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Sometimes teachers work with students to create the project and other times teachers develop the project. Either situation allows for students to set their goals. Too often, students dislike a project, balk at the idea, fail to complete the project and consequently earn a poor grade in class. Give students some involvement from the start with the project. Their creative input into identifying project-based learning goals will increase students' feelings of control over what they learn.
To begin, explain the project and then provide guidelines concerning the learning goals. Brainstorm with the students about what they want to know by the project's completion. The goal's focus should always be student-centered. Show students what a measurable goal looks like. Give them a starting point, such as "by the end of this project I will understand..."
Ask students to create at least three steps that will aid in accomplishing their goal and have them write them out the steps with their goal. Check over each student's steps and goal, and once teacher and student are satisfied, you both should sign and date the document. Both of you should refer to the goal sheet every class period for reminders and emphasis.
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Teacher Created Goals
Project-based learning is an active process for students because they have control of their learning. Sometimes when creating project based learning goals, it is necessary for teachers to make the goals. Student participation is still essential, as they are the center of the learning process. This is a simple modification. The teacher must be watchful that the student remains focused and that his project goal does not expand beyond the scope of the lesson. For example, a student may be distracted by a discussion of Edwardian England and instead present a discourse on music popular at that time.
Begin by asking students what they imagine as their project's goal. If possible, students should write them out. Discuss goals one-on-one so the goal reflects what the student sees as important when completing the project. Continue by helping write steps to goal completion and use the goal sheet during class.
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Using projects as a basis for learning is a popular trend in education. Instead of teacher-led activities such as lecture, students control aspects of the learning process. The greatest benefit of creating project-based learning goals is that students engage themselves because their goal is real and they truly assimilate the unit lessons.