Challenges - Pre-designed projects
Pre-designed projects are ‘real-life’ undertakings based on teachers’ ideas and designed to achieve particular learning. Students may negotiate changes, but once accepted they have the responsibility and autonomy for carrying out the project. Designed projects may act as prerequisites for 'open projects' – where students negotiate to undertake projects based on their own ideas.
Challenges in this edition include: producing learning resources for the school, orchestrating a digital charity campaign, managing a junior sports team, value-adding and exporting local produce, buying online, teaching younger classes worm-farming, outsourcing an old fashioned party and investigating the school’s image.
Designed projects have a number of advantages, including the following:
Activity can be designed to target particular outcomes. For example, requiring the team to develop an equity policy not only increases productive participation but also it teaches about the concept of fairness. Furthermore the process of developing the policy can be a rich and instructive experience in itself. In other cases requiring press releases is a deliberate strategy to introduce contextualised writing.
The pre-designed project can promote a more rewarding experience. The value of learning from failure is over rated, especially where younger students are concerned. Failure can shake their confidence, de-motivate and make them shy away from challenges in the future.
Teachers can build in a number of features that improve the prospect of success of the actual undertaking. For example, using Red Alerts almost forces the students to better plan and prepare their projects. Similarly, the use of tips enhances positive outcomes, whether by pointing students in the direction of more productive strategies or avoiding pitfalls which can derail processes. The use of tips can also allow teachers to adjust the level of challenge.
The designed approach allows the teacher to tailor the activity and experience to achieve the required learning outcomes. Too often students are encouraged to run with a project and the outcomes are worked out at the end. A simple retrospective approach is adequately strategic, particularly where specific curriculum outcomes are required or desired.
Having a better understanding of the likely action, issues and outcomes allow the teacher to ‘teach’ better – he/she is in a strategic position to prepare the students, to identify teaching opportunities and to organise reflection.
Paradoxically, designed projects can give students greater control. The teacher does not have to ‘seed ideas’ and manipulate decisions. The teacher’s ‘influence’ is in the design. In a sense the teacher is freed up to monitor and facilitate the learning through processes, such as ‘just in time’ teaching, reflection and assessment.
Sample Challenges from Book Three
Acting as a contract management team, learners must make Christmas more enjoyable for senior citizens. The task is to raise money to ‘contract’ another group of learners to organise and run a Christmas party in a local retirement home. To raise the money Old-Fashioned Christmas Decorations packs will be made and sold.
Plugging Local Leaks
Learners survey and then produce a report on products that local students are buying from outlets outside the town. The team must then encourage local retailers to stock these items.
The aim is learning about exporting. Acting as a 'cooperative', learners make local goods more valuable and sell them in another town. For example, they may buy apricots, turn them into jam and then send it to a food shop in another town or school, to act as their retailer.
The team operates in a partnership with local industry.
The aim is to learn about two problem solving techniques used
in industry and other organisations, namely the Fishbone and Five-Ways. With their partner, learners are to apply both techniques to the school and then introduce the techniques to people from local industry who may want to use them in their workplaces.
TEMPLATE Designing Projects
Extract from Enterprise Projects Book 1, Enterprising Ways to Teach and Learn 2nd edition. Invaluable