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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

The Characteristics of an Effective Project

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 11/30/2018
Rosemary Miner MD
2019 Nowell Leadership Academy District TOY
Science Educator
Sheila C. “Skip” Nowell Leadership Academy, Central Falls campus

In early November, Nowell Leadership Academy embarked on our first ever Exhibition Day to showcase student work during the important first quarter of school.

Mural outside Nowell Leadership Academy

At Nowell, we continually strive to have students work on projects that are meaningful and relevant to their lives, interests, and concerns. This fall, those projects were all on display during Exhibition Day. As students, educators, staff, board members, parents, local officials, and invited guests strolled the freshly cleaned classrooms and common spaces of Nowell, I reflected on the essential characteristics of projects that shape the best possible learning experience for our students.

Those characteristics include a challenging problem, sustained inquiry, authenticity, student voice and choice, reflection, critique, revision, and public product.

Students from Nowell Leadership Academy

Our students gain valuable skills and knowledge by tackling challenging problems and questions through the process of sustained inquiry. At multiple points along the way, students inevitably experience frustration and seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Each of these is an opportunity to teach and mentor them in the habits of success, such as strategy shifting, appropriate help-seeking, persistence, and a positive response to setbacks. Projects must be authentic, with “real world” connections, in order to engage students and give meaning to their work. Projects must also allow for student voice and choice, so students can explore their interests, concerns, and goals for the future. These projects also assign time for reflection by the student, as well as crucial peer and mentor review, feedback, and revision.

At each part of the project, I have seen our students rise to the challenge and find themselves making connections, being flexible, innovative, and maintaining rigor while receiving support as they address the root causes of their roadblocks.

Science project on Exhibition Day

Everything was progressing quite well until we approached Exhibition Day. My students experienced great trepidation and were filled with questions. Why did this work – the culmination of a quarter’s worth of effort – need to be publicly displayed, debated, and discussed by the entire school and local community members? The prospect of such a display of work would strike fear into the hearts of most adults, let alone high school students, many of whom were experiencing project-based learning for the first time. So why must our students publicly display their products?

The answer to that question gets to the very heart of project-based learning: nothing makes a project more “real world” than inviting the real world into our classrooms. When we do, our projects gain authenticity, an audience ups the stakes and ultimately the product itself, and learning becomes tangible. Public products help create the learning community Nowell is working towards every single day: a link between school, parents, community members, and the wider world. Additionally, public product is an effective way to communicate to the world outside our doors about our students, their ideas, abilities, and goals.

Science project on Exhibition Day

I believe our first Exhibition Day celebrated student successes and helped to build a collaborative community and strong culture for learning at Nowell. More importantly, it helped our students define their role in the local community and to imagine, and hopefully believe in, their potential to impact the world beyond Nowell. I could not have hoped for more than that from our first Exhibition Day.

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