Giving Student Choice Increases Their Motivation and Buy-in
Students thrive when their work coincides with their interests. The great benefit of doing research projects is that it provides the opportunity for students to dive in to what they are passionate about, while still accomplishing educational goals. Of course, the first criterion for a good research project then is flexibility.
This may vary depending on the project goals you have set. If you are specifically studying the Revolutionary War, students can study different events or important people within the war. If you are looking to teach design technology skills, the topic could be anything that a student is passionate about.
So as we look for creative ways to do research projects, remember to allow students to research their passions within the parameters of your goals.
1. Write a quiz
There are a number of websites where you can easily create your own quizzes. Once students have completed their research, they can use a quiz as a learning tool. Check their knowledge before reviewing the material with a group of student peers, then check their understanding after through the use of the same quiz. Kahoot.com, for example, makes it an interactive class experience where each student gets on to their own mobile device and taps what they think the answer to a multiple-choice question is. Points are awarded as students try to reach the top of the class leaderboard!
2. Make a collage
Students can gather information and use images to share what they’ve learned. This may be a combination of text and images to help provide clarity. Students can use a free online collage maker or cut images out of magazines. Not only is this a creative project for them to find and organize the right visuals, but they can share it with their classmates to educate one another. Visuals help facilitate learning for students.
3. Talking wax museum
Students research important characters from history and then dress up as them to create a ‘talking wax museum'. Invite other classes or parents to come in and talk to your student actors to ask them about the people they each represent. This activity can be difficult for shy children, but they can opt to write down facts about themselves for people to read instead. A technological twist would be to have the students each record themselves answering different questions as their characters, then play the answers for your wax museum visitors.
4. Photo scavenger hunt
Photo scavenger hunts are written beforehand as a series of items to take photos of. They can use their own phones or have groups with rented cameras. This could take place in a museum, on a nature walk, or in the classroom. Items to be found can be listed straightforward if there are a large number of them, or written as hints that students have to decipher. For example, in a museum, you can list the scientific name of a species and students will have to read each placard to find the correct animal.
5. Turn research into art
Instead of just a boring PowerPoint, turn research presentations into show and tell. Let students create whatever they want to represent their research subject. This could be a clay sculpture, a finger painting, a digital drawing, a poem, or song. While presenting their art, they must explain all that they learned about the subject. This becomes especially important when some students create “abstract” art that doesn’t directly teach anything about what they learned.
6. Design a magazine
If there is a lot of information to compile about different subjects, you could look at a longer form or presentation like a magazine. It should be visually attractive and interesting to read. If you decide your class should create a magazine, use online design tools to make it easy. You can have each member of your class design a page or divide them into groups each with their own magazine to create.
7. Record an interview
Some class concepts aren’t as much factual as they are points for discussion. This is a perfect opportunity for students to interview each other to discuss their thoughts on a matter. Or this could be a useful strategy when discussing past world events or inventions. Students can interview their parents or grandparents to learn more about history. This can be done with video or just their phone’s microphone. With parent permission, you can even turn this series of interviews into a podcast on Anchor.fm or a playlist on YouTube for distribution to class members and further review.
These seven creative ways to do research projects are perfect for a technology-focused classroom. Depending on your classroom situation, you may also be able to look at opportunities in augmented reality. Group projects can also be supplemented with peer collaboration technology. Comment below with any successful methods you have used for creative research projects.