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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Type 3s-Part 2


Last blog, I discussed the key elements of an authentic Type 3 project.

First, the student has to solve a real problem. There is lots of research, and the project could take the entire school year. Next, there is the development of a product or service, which is presented to an authentic audience.

So a student researching dinosaurs and putting together a PowerPoint would not qualify as a Type 3 project. Rather, it might involve a student concerned about graffiti on the school bathroom stalls, who decides to research causes for the problem then designs a series of products-newsletters, informational lectures, and videos-aimed at providing a solution.

During this blog, I plan to list the basic steps required for students to conduct a Type 3. While I am drawing from my own experience, credit must also go to Dr. Katherine Brown, a presenter at Confratute, a week-long gifted education training at the University of Connecticut. Her knowledge and accompanying PowerPoints have proven invaluable.

Problem Finding

First things first, students must be concerned about a particular problem, maybe in their school or community.  The problem must have personal relevance.  It’s best that students tie the problem to their interests. One technique that has worked for me is to have my students walk around with a small notepad and jot down potential problems on school campus.  Here are some examples: graffiti, aging paint on walls, cafeteria food, bored students, stressed teachers.  My students have also focused on community problems, such as texting while driving, unkempt parks, unwanted dogs at shelters, and polluted rivers and streams.

Initial Planning

I have students complete a basic outline then conference with me for approval.  I tell them that the details will likely change, but it’s good to map out the basic areas, including the problem, product, and audience as well as who might be able to help.

Literature Review/Research

This stage might take the longest. I have students begin a preliminary search around their topic/problem using the Internet, books and magazines. I have them type notes on any important facts or ideas they find. After a broad search, I have them narrow down their research and zoom in on some key findings that will best help them solve their problem.


After researching for some time, I have them find possible experts on their topics who can serve as mentors. I teach them to locate the experts and write letters (actually e-mails) to secure interviews. Sometimes the conversations with experts can happen over the phone or at school, and sometimes it’s a matter of corresponding through e-mail.

Product Development

Students then take their information and organize it around the development of a product or service, which is designed to alleviate or solve their problem. For instance, a student researching pollution problems regarding a nearby lake might create flyers to bring awareness to the situation as well as organize a cleanup. I advise students to consider their learning strengths and natural abilities when deciding what products to create.


Students are responsible to schedule the sharing of their product or service with an authentic audience, one outside their classroom. This could mean arranging to present information to the entire student body during lunch or scheduling a speech during a faculty meeting.  Sometimes, the audience could involve presenting their work to a single expert or other person.


Students are asked to assess themselves using a form. They are assessed and provided feedback on the process by the teacher using another form.

Essentially, those are the steps students take when completing a Type 3. During the process, students also engage in mini-lessons that provide with them with Type 2 how-to-learn and how-to-think skills, which enable them to have even greater success with their Type 3.  But that’s for the next blog!


Thanks for reading,