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The Gate Project


Description:

The document “The GATE Program”, which was created by me, is a project-based framework for the Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) of the fourth and fifth grade students, at Napa Street Elementary School in Northridge, California. In this program, students were encouraged to choose a project from the list or use them as guidelines to develop their own. The projects were intended to be done in teams of two, but could be done individually as well. Students were expected to investigate, design, build, and test their product, while following the step by step guidelines listed in the attached  document. The teacher’s role was to follow each group's project development, identify the need for “benchmark lessons” and assist students whenever help is required. The final product was planned to be presented in front of faculty, staff, parents, students, and other guests. Evaluations, which start by students’ self-assessment, are followed by the same population that comes to watch the show.

In their pursuit to accomplish their project goals, students used Discovery Learning and acquired new investigation and data management skills. As they developed their computer-based products, they assumed the role of young practitioners following their own interests, taking responsibility for their work and making sure that the project will “work” as conceived. Testing allows students to critique their efforts and serves as a tool for self-evaluation.

This document was well received by the fourth and fifth grade GATE students. They enjoyed exploring the resources attached to each section and had difficulty deciding which project to select. Students were not exposed previously to project-based learning and they had difficulty with the format and the scope of this project. Documents, such as The Planning and Design Procedure document (included in this artifact), provided necessary scaffolding for defining the goals, identifying the resources and dividing the work among team members. My plan was to let them perform their investigations and introduce production tools later. Not familiar with the tools, students could not channel their research to an expected outcome. It forced me to stop the ongoing project, offer a few “benchmark lessons” and let them tinker with the tools. This diversion helped them focus better on their project and for the first time visualize the outcome.

I think that my document was successful in initiating and managing the investigation part of the project. I learned the importance of using tools that students know and can use. Helping students to Focus their attention towards the goal is as important as applying the right steps towards accomplishing it. In its nature, project-based production generates an atmosphere of “work chaos” that could improve by providing students with a Production and Evaluation Guideline to help them perform better on the last and most crucial part of the project. This type of document is challenging and hard to design because it requires anticipating the possible pitfalls that students might find themselves falling into. I intend to include such a document for next year’s program.




Click here to see the Gate Project Specifications
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