In response to one of my posts, several people asked some great questions. How do you manage students going off in different directions with their authentic projects? How do you meet your objectives?
Several people responded with great answers. I am adding my thoughts and paraphrasing what was said. (Thank you to everyone who answered these questions, both on Facebook and on my blog.)
What we found when we had students going off in several directions with authentic projects was that we were able to group them into smaller groups based on their interests. Some groups were larger, some were small, and some students really wanted to work alone, which was fine. But I don’t remember a time that we were managing more than a handful of groups, which honestly is not that hard to do when kids are engaged and motivated.
To meet objectives, make authentic project milestones require that your content covers your objectives. For example, if you students are designing and building model cars, and you have an objective to cover motion, friction, and energy, then have a project milestone be to race the cars and insert a discussion of motion, friction, and energy into the follow-up of the race.
Managing authentic projects is work, but it is also a lot of fun, different every day, and never boring. The kids are engaged, and so are the teachers. Can’t beat that!