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Steve Haberlin is a Ph.D student at the University of South Florida, where he also works as a teaching assistant, supervising and teaching pre-service teachers. Steve holds a master's degree in...
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Type 3 Projects—Managing the Day-to-Day Detail

Note: This is the third and final installment of a three-part series on Type 3 projects for gifted/advanced students.

Now, that you have introduced students to Type 3 projects and helped them plan out their projects, it’s time to manage their work and progress. Of course, there’s a number of ways to do this; I will share what has worked for me. The more students you have simultaneously working on Type 3 projects, the more organized you need to be in your practice. The following is a list to help you stay on top of everything (without going crazy).

Build a Database

I found it very helpful to create a spreadsheet to organize and track my students’ progress. I created columns for each component of the project (e.g., chosen topic, research, collected data, created product). This provided me with snapshot of where exactly my students were in the project at any time. Below is an example.

Student Topic Created Plan/Conference Held Research Product Presented to Audience Assessment
John Elephants (poaching) Yes/Yes Read three articles/took notes Began creating PowerPoint Hasn't scheduled yet To be determined

Student Online Portfolios

Another way to track projects is to require students to create their own online space, where they record notes and project information. The Renzulli learning system enables students to create virtual project plans that include all elements of the Type 3 project. Other ideas include having students create a web page for the project using free sites such as Wix or Weebly. This approach encourages students to develop organizational and technology skills as well as provides teachers with a place to view student progress.

Individual Conferences

There’s no substitute for meeting with students. Face-to-face meetings allow teachers to ask students about progress on projects, about challenges, about new ideas. While students are working on projects, perhaps researching on computers, take the opportunity to meet individually with each child for 15 minutes. During the conference, ask

  • How is the project going?
  • What steps have you completed?
  • What challenges are you facing and what are you doing to solve those challenges?
  • How can I help you? 
  • What are your next steps?

You can then record conference notes in your project database; these notes serve as talking points for parent conferences and to help teachers in determining grades.

Academic Conferences

The final method is to hold periodic “conferences,” where students take turns presenting project updates to classmates. The presentations can be done using a PowerPoint or informally. Students update each other on what actions they have taken, what challenges they are facing, and next steps. It’s a perfect way to foster collaboration between students, as they can ask each other for advice on completing various steps. Since these projects are often individual initiatives, the conferences create a space to interact, share, and collaborate as researchers do in the real word. This forum also enables students to practice their speaking, listening, and presentation skills. Perhaps hold conferences every nine weeks.

Type 3 projects are designed to challenge gifted and advanced learners, to provide them with opportunities to research topics of interests at deep levels, and to develop new learning skills. This series has packed years of experience into several articles. Experiment with these ideas and techniques to find what works for you and your students. Then, watch as students light up and engage.

 

Steve Haberlin is a graduate assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida and an educator with 10 years of experience.