Overall Project Constraints
Experience led the entire staff to develop the following guidelines for project development:
- Although the sequence need not be traditional, projects considered as a whole must include the knowledge and skills required by the various subject matter frameworks and district curriculum standards.
- The optimum length of a project was six weeks.
- Because of community and university demand for traditional transcripts, project work needed to fit into traditional course titles.
- Students were to have a choice of products at the end of a project, including creating their own within the parameters set for a given unit.
Project Components and Rubrics at-a-glance
- Project Product: Teachers chose projects, while students selected their product. When all projects for the school year were reviewed, each House covered the curriculum content and skills found in a traditional program. One important difference, however, was that the sequence of topics might vary to better integrate the different disciplines. This flexibility in sequence was a plus because the same topic developed from different perspectives gives traditional subjects relevance and context that is sometimes missing from a single subject classroom.The final product is one way students demonstrate their understanding of content and show how that knowledge is interwoven with other disciplines. Students were required to present evidence of their learning e.g. presentation, exhibit or newsletter. The products also reflected a philosophy that students share their learning with others, preferably with individuals or organizations outside the school community. A project exhibition demonstrates how the information they learned works in a practical situation
- Student Project and Product Action Plan : Students prepare a project and product plan and update it weekly for the duration of the project. While students may have trouble constructing realistic timelines, the process helps them to understand what is expected and how much they will be accomplishing. They need to realize from the beginning of the six-week period, there is much to do.
- Basic Knowledge and Skills: The rubrics give subject area objectives grouped by academic discipline e.g. math, or science. Since the curriculum was entirely interdisciplinary projects, subject area competencies appropriate to grade level were documented through the use of rubrics.
- Responsible Citizenship: Serramonte High School graduation requirements included a responsible citizenship component. It's never too early to ask students to take responsibility for their own learning. If students assume this responsibility in high school (or earlier), they are well on their way to becoming life-long learners.