Parents know a lot about their child's interests and passions, and are in an excellent position to create highly engaging and personalized projects for academic learning. But one of the most common questions we hear is, "How do I know my child is learning the content-specific academic standards they need at their grade level while doing a project? How can we turn a fun activity into a rich and robust learning project?"
The pedagogy known as "Project-based Learning" is a research-backed structure that ensures deep, meaningful and relevant learning takes place for your child. If a parent address all eight of these Critical Design Elements in one project, there will be a high correlation to academic learning and mastery.
Parents may not be familiar with what all these terms mean, so Co-Learn Club has created resources to help. Parent Working Groups are workshops for co-learners and parents educating their kids at home. They meet in live, interactive video conferences with an expert coach to find solutions to shared challenges. A "Project Design PBL Working Group" ran for seven weeks in April and May 2020 and guided parents to understand and find examples of all eight elements. Parents created a Project Plan to launch with their children, and a few amazing parents have kindly agreed to share their project plans with other co-learners.
Here are two projects that you can use as inspiration with your own child.
7th Grade "Saving the Planet Bedroom Redesign"
This project was designed by a mom who has a daughter in 7th grade. It can easily be scaled down for elementary grade students, or ramped up to include higher grade level standards for high school students. It contains academic content standards in Algebra and Geometry, English Language Arts, art and history. Additionally, it addresses Social Emotional and life skills for time management and communication with others. In addition to using the internet and virtual tours as a resource, the student also will meet virtually with an industrial engineer, an interior designer, and interview an environmentalist. This project offers an amazing blend of high level academics fueled by the passionate exploration of environmental conservation and something many kids care about -- their own bedroom! Check it out here.
4th Grade "Becoming a Marine Biologist"
This project was designed by the mom of a 4th grader. It too can be scaled up for older students in higher grade levels quite easily. This project taps into the child's desire to become a Marine Biologist. The cool thing is that while the student is exploring ideas for themselves and their future, academic learning is added in a way that makes learning relevant and embedded in a personalized way! It addresses academic standards for mathematics, research, keyboarding, and using technology tools such as Adobe Spark. If your child doesn't want to be a Marine Biologist, try conducting an interview with him or her first. At Co-Learn Club, we've discovered that you can learn something new about your own child when you conduct a discovery interview. Here's some questions we've found helpful to ask:
Once you have a better sense of your child's interests and potential career aspirations, try adapting this "Becoming a Marine Biologist" project plan for your child.
9th Grade "Make An Original Costume"
This project was collaboratively created by a mom and her daughter. It includes academic content standards in mathematics, language arts, health and safety, and art. Additionally, it addresses Social Emotional and life skills for career exploration, communication with people you don't know, and sewing / crafting. For this project, the student interviewed experts from the costume industry as well as an actor who has extensive experience wearing complicated full-body costumes. Check out this project plan and see if it inspires ways that you can adapt it to meet your own child's learning targets and interests!
We hope you will explore whether creating a project for your child to learn, do, and engage with their world is the right fit! To make your planning a bit easier, here's our "Parent Project Planner" document. When you access this link, https://bit.ly/CLCprojectplan, it will automatically create a copy for you to use as your own. Give it a try. We'd love to hear about a project you've designed for your child, and to share it with other co-learning families at Co-Learn Club. Be sure to share your finished Project Planner with Hello@colearn.club