Differentiated Projects and Products

Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Differentiation
  • Project-Based Learning

Type

Guidance Documents

Grade Level

How do projects in the EL model differ from the typical classroom projects, book projects and science projects that are common in schools?

In the EL Education model, projects are not activities done after core academic work is completed, or just used for enrichment. Projects are long-term structures for learning academic content and skills, which require students to immediately put to use new content and skills in order to create something of value for an audience beyond the classroom. This document defines projects and products and explains how to appropriately differentiate projects so all students can produce high quality products.

What is the difference between a Project and a Product?

EL distinguishes between a student project–the full spectrum of learning experiences, lessons, skills, understandings, disciplinary content and assessments in which students are engaged in order to create a product–and the product itself, the artifact that emerges from that process.

For example, one EL student product was a set of small, school-published books documenting the experiences of local senior citizens during the Great Depression.  Each book contained a profile of a senior citizen, written by an individual student in memoir style, along with a watercolor portrait.  A color copy of the book was kept by the student, while the original book was presented to the senior citizen and her family as a gift. 

The full project surrounding that product was much larger, and included:

  • class lessons and student research on the Great Depression
  • analysis of visual arts, poetry, music and film from the Depression
  • student-drafted timelines with national and personal family benchmarks
  • book groups centered on fictional novels concerning the Depression
  • a written essay connected to the book group novel
  • fieldwork research at a local history museum
  • two whole-class interviews with a local historian
  • lessons and role-play practice in interviewing skills
  • fieldwork visits to a local senior center for interviews
  • writing lessons and practice in biography and memoir genres
  • artistic lessons in portraiture and watercolor as a medium
  • critique and revision of multiple drafts of the final written profile and portrait
  • cooperative work in editing and binding the actual books

Additionally, the project entailed building a personal relationship with a senior citizen, which was for some students the most meaningful and transformational learning experience of the project.

How much choice should there be in Projects and Products?

Some schools and teachers assume that a differentiated project-based learning culture requires wide choice in the formats and topics of student projects, so that students have the broadest range of choice regarding what they will study and how they will demonstrate understanding and skills. While this approach can be effective under masterful leadership, EL does not generally recommend it. 

Download this resource to read the full text.



Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Differentiation
  • Project-Based Learning

Type

Guidance Documents

Grade Level

How do projects in the EL model differ from the typical classroom projects, book projects and science projects that are common in schools?

In the EL Education model, projects are not activities done after core academic work is completed, or just used for enrichment. Projects are long-term structures for learning academic content and skills, which require students to immediately put to use new content and skills in order to create something of value for an audience beyond the classroom. This document defines projects and products and explains how to appropriately differentiate projects so all students can produce high quality products.

What is the difference between a Project and a Product?

EL distinguishes between a student project–the full spectrum of learning experiences, lessons, skills, understandings, disciplinary content and assessments in which students are engaged in order to create a product–and the product itself, the artifact that emerges from that process.

For example, one EL student product was a set of small, school-published books documenting the experiences of local senior citizens during the Great Depression.  Each book contained a profile of a senior citizen, written by an individual student in memoir style, along with a watercolor portrait.  A color copy of the book was kept by the student, while the original book was presented to the senior citizen and her family as a gift. 

The full project surrounding that product was much larger, and included:

  • class lessons and student research on the Great Depression
  • analysis of visual arts, poetry, music and film from the Depression
  • student-drafted timelines with national and personal family benchmarks
  • book groups centered on fictional novels concerning the Depression
  • a written essay connected to the book group novel
  • fieldwork research at a local history museum
  • two whole-class interviews with a local historian
  • lessons and role-play practice in interviewing skills
  • fieldwork visits to a local senior center for interviews
  • writing lessons and practice in biography and memoir genres
  • artistic lessons in portraiture and watercolor as a medium
  • critique and revision of multiple drafts of the final written profile and portrait
  • cooperative work in editing and binding the actual books

Additionally, the project entailed building a personal relationship with a senior citizen, which was for some students the most meaningful and transformational learning experience of the project.

How much choice should there be in Projects and Products?

Some schools and teachers assume that a differentiated project-based learning culture requires wide choice in the formats and topics of student projects, so that students have the broadest range of choice regarding what they will study and how they will demonstrate understanding and skills. While this approach can be effective under masterful leadership, EL does not generally recommend it. 

Download this resource to read the full text.



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