Students have a keen sense of what experiences are relevant to their futures. Here are some real-world projects that engage students on many different levels:
- Photo essays with 10 carefully selected and annotated slides. Students should turn to any major online news publication for models.
- A 30-second public service announcement (PSA). The Ad Council is a good source for socially minded, well-framed messages, but non-governmental organizations from around the world also put out clever PSAs.
- Virtual museums featuring 10 pieces of art based on a theme. Students curate original or existing artworks and write descriptions under each artwork to explain a perspective the artwork offers on the selected theme. Museums around the world feature online exhibitions; look for cross-border exhibitions for inspiration.
- An international student newspaper.
- A radio program featuring four three-minute segments. Students, working in groups, take on the roles of executive producers, journalists, and technical producers to make a short radio program based on a theme. This American Life, Radio Lab, and various other NPR or PRI programs make excellent models.
What are these projects about? That's up to you and your students. Topics should tie-into your curriculum. Infusing technology-rich project work is an excellent way to engage students and meet curricular requirements. A few examples: Democracy around the World, Literary Geniuses, A Thirsty Planet, The World According to Numbers. The possibilities are limitless.
A well-documented key to success is the involvement of students in planning, anticipating and solving problems, and executing all aspects of the project. A good way to start is to take a critical look at models. Ask your students to write down the qualities that make the model interesting and compelling-as well as shortcomings. Students can then create a plan on how to achieve similar excellence from their own starting point.
What types of projects do your students like the most? Is there a correlation between interest and achievement?