Sunday, August 11, 2013

Let the Projects Begin!

This year I decided to add a research project to our homeschooling plans. I wasn't sure exactly how it would go, my kids are still a bit young. All I can say is "wow"! My daughter decided to do a report about cats. I had in my mind it would take her at least a month to work on her report, it took her 2 days! I think this is because she really wanted a venue where she really got to talk about everything she knew about cats! Everyone that deals with gifted children understands that are deep wells of information. When they have a passion, there is no limit to what they can consume regarding that topic. However, when do they get to "let it all out", where is their forum to share with others their proficient synthesis of all that information? It is now official, we are hooked on projects!
My eldest is doing his report on ferrets (his passion). Since he is older (3rd grade), I have added a few required elements to his report. One of those is to get out there and interview some real individuals that know a thing or two about ferrets. His first stop will be to a local pet store where he has an appointment to speak with their "ferret specialist", she has even told him she will take some of the ferrets out of the cage and allow him to play with them (thanks, because we are NOT ready for a pet in our house). Teaching him that books are great, but some face time with a real life professional that can discuss things with you is a life lesson I really want to instill in him. He has been reading books, I have been reading books to him, and he has been listening to audio books - he is consuming this project. He has even been working diligently on his report cover.
It actually feels good to see Gardner's Multiple Intelligences in action. As my kids are delving into their projects, I am seeing them embrace the experience as something beyond "book work". They see a purpose behind what they are doing, and it excites them.
The "other half" of the Wonder Twins (as they like to call themselves) is still deciding on his topic. He is having trouble deciding on pigs or puppies as his theme. I am letting him take his time as I see a driving force for success and engagement is passion and interest in the topic being studied. There is no rush, he is only in the First grade - there is plenty of time.
A final aspect that I see as important with projects is a final outlet, a grand ending, a point and a purpose behind the whole event. For my daughter, she made her Youtube debut by giving her report on camera ( it made her feel accomplished. She was excited to get a chance to the "the world" the efforts of her work. Sure, it has less than 100 views (and most of those are probably family members), but it wasn't about going viral, but giving her a forum.  I decided to give each child a choice in their final forum for every project they complete. It might be a Youtube video, a presentation to Grandma and Grandpa, or presented at a local college (something they have planned for chemistry projects they are working on). The point is for them to share their work, an aspect that I sometimes see missing from project based assignments.
It has been quite a fun experience thus far!