Saturday, 30 November 2013

So what does a HPSS Big Project actually look like?

The model emerges...

I get a little worried when I think about project based learning... how do you make sure all this awesome potential is reached? .. can we truely make a difference in a collaborative, innovative way, while personalising and accommodating student passions, interests and abilities?  I think we can, but we need guides and frameworks to help students throughout their learning journey.  And that's not just my opinion, it's an important aspect to emerge from the academic literature.   As someone who embraces "structured chaos", the idea of developing a clear model or framework for project learning at HPSS was comforting and a non-negotiable.

To find inspiration I turned to 'google' and searched far and wide... but in reality, I found just a few useful models and ideas on project based learning that I could use to help develop a model for our own Big Projects.  Some models that where particularly insightful were: 

The Buck Institute for Education wonderful Project Based Learning (BIE) model with the idea of the 'driving question' which is needed as well as the idea of a launch event. source:

Challenge Based Learning model developed with support from Apple - this time with a 'big idea' and a solution to the challenge - source

This model developed by You for Youth was particularly useful - the terms 'kickoff' and 'showtime' were first seen here - I really liked the structure and ideas.  source :

This model from ICTeD Services is also based on Challenge Based Learning and continues to focus on 'guiding' with solution being 'action' and it also brings in the concept of assessment -

While all these models were being explored and I was juggling with the terms 'project based learning' with 'problem based learning' and 'challenge based learning', the SLL team at HPSS emerged with their own model of learning.  This model was created from the deconstruction and reconstruction of the New Zealand Curriculum document. It is a really powerful tool for educators.   When I saw this model, everything began to make sense....

Learning Design Model developed by the HPSS SLL team

With all these models swirling around, a framework emerged that combined the best of project based learning structures with our very own Learning Design model.  The framework is this...

This is the HPSS Big Projects Framework!

There are five key stages that are structured, but fluid enough for students to continue to reflect, refine, replan and take new actions throughout the process of project learning. 

So what do the stages in the framework represent?

Kick Off is the start  the event that inspires  students to ask questions, to explore and to engage with the project.  It is a hook and/or provocation. It involves exploring a range of resources that will help students make decisions about their interest levels, options, and whether they will ‘opt in’ to the project.  

Plan is the most important stage.  Without a sound idea, well throughout and developed, a project group may not achieve their potential.  Planning involves creating an action plan that incorporates the who, what, when, where, how.  Planning involves developing clear goals, roles, connection and understanding what learning and skill development will occur. 

Action is about the ‘doing’ – it’s about putting the plan into action, making the connections, inquiring and finding out what’s needed to be known. It’s about using information and skills to make things happen.  Action is a ‘journey’ that can be told like a story and shared with others.  Action involves collaborating, reflection, getting feedback, making changes, making decisions, meeting deadlines and achieving a desired outcome or result.   
Showtime is the sharing stage – the big exhibition! It’s about the teams coming together to see the ‘big picture’ and how their contribution fits to the whole Big Project (like a jigsaw).  Showtime must be authentic and link to our partners and community.  They are unique to the project. It is about celebrating the outcomes; the learning, skills, innovation, development and contributions that have been made. 

Finally, there is Final Look.  The term final is used in this stage and there is constant reflection and evaluation in all stages. Final Look will involve a personalised framework (i.e. some choice) around critically evaluating their team, their plan, their learning, their outcomes.  It will be linked to the HPSS values and the Habits.  Each project may have a different focus or ‘twist’ to this.  Key questions around ‘so what?’ and ‘what now’?’ will be explored. 

This is the beginning of what Big Projects looks like... now that a structure is in place, we must explore what this looks like for everyone at HPSS (staff, students, whanau/family and community)  and the tools they will need to make each stage a success.  But there are so many other things to think about and another element is needed in the model that embraces the dispositional curriculum at HPSS... 

... but more about that in the next blog!  

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