Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Projects & Exhibitions

Abraham Lincoln, upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe:

"So this is the little lady whose book started the Civil War."

It is difficult for most students – and teachers – to imagine 
that an entire semester could be  spent examining just what
President Lincoln meant by those words. . .

Notes on Jim Burke's  -- Chapter 14
The English Teacher's Companion
"Integrating Projects & Exhibitions"

If we are to be effective urban educators we must devise lesson plans that address three things: the problem of engagement, the problem of comprehension, and the problem of retention.

Jim Burke invites us to explore the powerful possibility – and the empowering potential – of the long-term project. He encourages us to design lessons around big ideas – to look at the big picture – to ask essential questions.

There are three main types of projects have emerged.

  • Senior Exit Projects: These projects are sometimes required as part of a larger school program and are not necessarily done in the English class. They may, however, involve the study of literature, or depend heavily on English teachers to help with certain parts of a project.
  • Exhibitions: These projects are traditionally done as part of a class, but represent a culminating activity for a quarter or semester. They are often used as a performance assessment, providing students an opportunity to demonstrate what they know and have learned to do over the course of the term.
  • Class Projects: These projects last anywhere from one to four weeks. While they are related to the other two types, class projects tend to focus on one particular unit of study to which the teacher wants to bring some closure.


"Our challenge as urban educators" Burke explains,"is finding high-leverage strategies that meet the demands of our texts and the needs of our students." As you’re looking to devise lesson plans that solve the problems of engagement, comprehension and retention – consider integrating projects and exhibitions into the curriculum.


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