The choose-your-own-projects Project


At the end of each unit of their book, my students do a group project. I find that projects are a great way for them to collaborate, create, and show off what they have learned from the unit. Their unit 2 project was a bit of a disaster. They focused on one topic and copied a lot of information for their posters straight from the book without more than a sentence or two of their own analysis. Furthermore, they did most of their planning in Korean and didn’t present anything in English. I think the instructions were not very clear to the students and the purpose of the project was also unclear. They might not have had enough time to work on it as well. Also, I assigned the groups rather than letting them choose and that might have affected group dynamics (a dangerous thing to mess with when your students are 13). So for unit 3 I we made some tweaks.

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MY ideas

I wrote down the names of the lessons in the unit to refresh their memories and matched them to suggestions I had for projects that might suit them – role plays, comics, an acrostic, stuff like that. I set out some rules, too – planning has to be done mostly in English. They have to use the vocabulary from their book but they can’t lift whole sentences. They have to work as a group as well as individually and each student has to create something. They have to present their projects as a group and they can’t just read what they have written on their papers.

2014-07-14 19.04.00

THEIR ideas

Students divided into two groups. The groups divided naturally because the first day of the project only five students were present. The rest (all from the same school) were on a field trip. On the second day of the project I asked the first group to explain the project to the second group and write the ideas and rules on the board. And then something unexpected happened: the members of the second group put their heads together and decided to come up with their own projects rather than use what I had suggested.

And they proved to me yet again the value of giving students room to be creative.

"Anne, can I say it like this?" Language feedback request.

“Anne, can I say it like this?” Language feedback request.

The project lasted four sessions, including the presentations. Much of their art work they did at home. I helped by giving language feedback and pointing out errors when they asked me to look at their writing. They helped each other by choosing roles and responsibilities. One a student in group two was lagging behind, her whole group came together to help her finish up. When a boy in group one couldn’t figure out the last line of his acrostic, his group scoured the book for ideas and helped him finish it. During the presentations, group members helped each other by taking on roles to role play and applauding after each member did their bit.

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Helping each other

Helping each other

I think our tweaks to the group project idea worked well. I am really proud of my kids and happy with how this turned out, so I wanted to share it with you.

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Final products

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Final products

If you would like to see the presentations, you can find them here and here.


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  • Hana Tichá  On July 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for letting me peek in your classroom again, Anne.

    It seems your students had lots of fun and the outcomes look gorgeous. My students love doing project work of this type too, and they often amaze me when they come up with some really great stuff. I believe that when you allow your students to express themselves in a slightly different way than usual, you give them an opportunity to show some of the talents that might otherwise remain hidden and unnoticed. Some are good artists, others are skilful organizers and time managers – these are all the skills they need when creating a collaborative project. But I think good project work needs a lot of organizing a planning on the teacher’s part too.

    What I like about the project you described in your post is that fact that you gave your students freedom of choice but at the same time you asked them to follow certain rules. I think this is really important. Project work is seen as chaos by some naysayers but if you give it a shape and purpose, it can be inspiring and beneficial. I also liked the tweak to your usual planning, which shows you think carefully about your lessons and your students.


    • livinglearning  On July 22, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Hana,
      Thank you so much for your feedback on this post. It is so true that people all have different skills and giving them the freedom to choose how to work collaboratively gives them the opportunity to make the most of their individual talents.
      I’ve never found group projects to be too chaotic, even though they don’t always work out how I planned. Sometimes I *am* afraid to give my students the time they need to complete the project, knowing that other work won’t get done.
      I really appreciate your comments!

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