A Project Approach to Learning
CTSC believes that the best way for teachers to use technology as a catalyst for rethinking the teaching and learning process is to design technology-infused projects. These projects engage students in substantive learning and promote 21st century learning skills.
Through a curriculum design process, facilitators help teachers identify essential questions related to specific content areas as a basis for developing a project. Ideally, learning through project work is also interdisciplinary. For example, social studies, science, and art topics may all be woven together.
Backwards by Design Approach
CTSC facilitators work with teachers to develop lessons that are based on a curriculum design process created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their 2005 book, Understanding by Design (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA). Teachers each create a technology-infused lesson that begins with an essential question developed through a process that moves backwards from an expression of desired student outcomes to a description of how students might demonstrate those outcomes, and, finally, to the creation of a teaching environment that enables students to demonstrate new knowledge and conceptual understandings.
Wiggins and McTighe outlined three components of a meaningful learning experience for students (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005):
How Our Approach Helps Teachers
CTSC professional development projects situate learning in the context of the individual teacher, school, and district. Facilitators identify the unique needs of each teacher, assist the teacher in developing strategies to address specific needs, and work alongside the teacher in the classroom to help implement the strategies.
Creating projects with teachers introduces new technology while it simultaneously shares new knowledge about effective teaching strategies. By working on a project of their own choosing to address learning goals for their students, it becomes clear that technology can enhance their practice.
How Our Approach Helps Students
For students, learning through projects can result in deeper understanding of the relationships among different forms of knowledge and different disciplines. Using technology as a tool can free students to focus on higher-order thinking skills. Optimally, learning through projects prepares students with 21st century skills. These skills include developing students’ research, analytical, and problem-solving abilities. Students learn to work cooperatively and engage in interesting and imaginative classroom work.