Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throw Forth

Source: Google Dictionary
Project comes from the latin word proicere, which means to throw forth. While this definition is probably seen as being more literal, I think it is still very applicable to what we hope to accomplish during Project Week. We throw forth ideas long before March, and we think about them, develop them, and change them. This preliminary design takes significant time and planning to evolve. My wife has her next projects planned through 2017 already! Our teachers and students take the project design process seriously, and the more this week becomes a part of our culture, the more involved the planning process becomes. I truly believe everyone, especially our students, are benefitting from this process, and I am thankful to everyone who has put the time in to develop our 27 amazing projects this year.

Merriam-Webster defines project as:
a planned piece of work that has a specific purpose (such as to find information or to make something new) and that usually requires a lot of time
That definition is perfect! Each of our projects starts with a specific purpose that is written in the form of an Essential Question, and then every aspect of the project is developed in a way that hopefully allows our students to answer that question. Whether it's "What is the relationship between food, identity, and immigration trends in New Hampshire?" or "How can we gain skills in website design and project management to deliver a functional and user-friendly product?", our projects can generally be categorized as "finding information" or "making something new." I would argue that there is also a third category for many of our projects not found in the Webster definition, which is "service to others." The Essential Question for our Special Olympics group is "How do the Special Olympics help those with cognitive disabilities to achieve their goals through sports?", but even this has aspects of finding information (learning about the organization) and making something new (building connections and friendships with others in our community). Please see our Project Guide for all of the Essential Questions to our projects this year.

The end of the dictionary definition, "usually requires a lot of time," has been covered, but I want to emphasize that point. For all of our projects, students, staff, and faculty put in so much time and effort prior to Project Week. I encourage all of our students and project leaders to honor that time commitment by giving everything they have to the success of their project. I wrote about experiential learning being exhausting, but it's also engaging and exhilerating. I encourage everyone to stay focused on their specific purpose through the end of the week, including the Project Symposium, in order to get the most out of this program and to complete the project.

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