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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Type 3 Projects—Getting Started

Note: This is the first of a three-part series.

One of the best tools I have come across to challenge gifted and advanced learners is the Type 3 enrichment project. Type 3s are real-world, problem-based, long-term investigations. They fall within Renzulli’s Schoolwide Enrichment Model, which you can read about here.

I have spent considerable time studying and using these projects with my gifted elementary students, and in the first of this three-part series, I would like to present some tips for introducing and starting Type 3s with your students. However, I’d like to give you an example of a Type 3 so you have a clear idea of what the project entails. Perhaps a child is fascinated with dogs and wants to complete a project on the subject. She discovers that the local animal shelter is having difficulty finding adoption homes for older dogs. The student decides to conduct research on the problem and presents a plan to update the shelter’s website to feature weekly profiles of the dogs along with incentives, which include free shots and supplies when you adopt an older dog. Shelter employees love the idea and allow her to help design the new online information. The student stays in touch with the shelter to see how it is working.

The following is an example of a well-executed Type 3. Within the project are certain elements. First, the student selects a topic he or she is passionate about. The project also revolves around a real-world problem and involves considerable research; it cannot be completed in a few days or a week. The project also calls for the creation of a product or service, which is aimed at solving the problem. Finally, the project is directed towards a real-world audience (not a made-up audience such as bringing together a group of students).

Now that hopefully you have a clear picture of the principles behind a Type 3, I’d like to provide a few tips on introducing it to students.

  1. Build up excitement by using visuals such as videos and pictures. The best way is to simply show exemplar projects completed in the past by former students or have students discuss their projects using poster boards and PowerPoints. Another idea is comb the Internet for great examples of Type 3s and show them to your students. Emphasize how the projects can help create positive change and allow students to explore their passions. Drive home the possibilities of these kinds of projects.
  2. Using a PowerPoint or other medium, begin to cover with students the basic elements of a Type 3 and what makes it different from other projects. Explain how it is a long-term commitment, how it’s based around real-world problems, projects, and audiences. Perhaps provide a story or example like I did above so students can visualize what’s involved.

In the next blog, I will outline how students can begin the process of applying for and planning their Type 3s.


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