In the Ventures eNewsletter, Donna Price, Associate Professor ESL and Vocational ESL at San Diego Community College, wrote an excellent article entitled Projects, Persistence, and the Workplace: How are they related? In the article, Donna describes Project Based Learning and common misconceptions about using projects. She writes that projects "encourage persistence because students feel safe about expressing themselves and successful when the project is completed. They build work skills because student work in teams to problem-solve and complete a task." She includes a quote from Susan Gaer (1998) stating that "Using a project-based approach has helped motivate students to learn language for a purpose. This methodology promotes community among class members."
During the summer, we offer a project-based curriculum. However, for many of the reasons stated in Donna's article, several of our instructors use projects every term. I think the key is to find projects that address our student learning outcomes and are complex enough to capture student interest over a sustained period of time. Two or our instructors, Suzanne Woodward and Kristi Reyes, offered to share project ideas. Enjoy.
Suzanne did two successful projects during Term IV. One was a grammar project with student PowerPoint presentations, and the other was a chart and graph project in collarboration with Debbie Hanley's ESL 899 class. Suzanne had high praise for her instructional aide, Adriana. Suzanne said, "I don't know what possessed me to tackle two new projects with my class in one session, but I can honestly say they turned out well. We couldn't have accomplished all this without Adriana. She was a big help in the lab and also in the class where we used the smart box to allow students who were absent on lab day to complete their powerpoint."
Suzanne's Term IV Projects
Kristi has done her Wonders of the World Project with several classes. She wrote:
1. First I used the PBS
Nova website's quiz to see what students knew about the original seven wonders
of the ancient world. Then I asked them what they would consider "wonders"
in their own countries or in other parts of the world.
2. Students used websites, wikipedia, google, and others to get an overview of other "wonders" (modern, natural, etc.) and to choose their own.
Also, students can go to this website and vote for the new seven wonders of the world .
3. They worked on teams to write a paragraph and prepare a presentation for the class. (See attachments) Examples of former ESL 899 students' work can be seen at http://www.geocities.com/veslprojects/mypage5.html .
Here are the complete project materials for this project:
Wonders of the World Assignment
Sample Paragraph Checklist
Sample PowerPoint Presentation