Getting Creative with Projects!

In her previous post, Angie went over ways to use online tools to create different projects. In this quasi follow-up post, we’ll go over some ways to get creative with projects using different online tools.

Using Online Resources to Your Advantage

Regardless of subject or topic, teachers can get creative with their projects! When faced with the difficulty of doing traditional classroom projects, such as making a poster or creating a paper model, while classes have been forced online or socially distanced, we can look to online resources that can replicate a similar type of knowledge or achieve certain learning goals. There are a plethora of websites with paid or free subscriptions that offer teachers access to a variety of templates (canva.com, slidesgo.com), platforms to post student work (padlet.com, flipgrid.com), and worksheet repository (liveworksheets.com, eslprintables.com).

Model House Project Utilizing Online Applications

For the national Korean elementary 5th Grade English curriculum, which requires students to be able to name and describe objects in rooms of a house, a “traditional” project would be to build a paper model house. While being somewhat time consuming, the ultimate objective is for students to demonstrate verbal or written mastery of the target language, rather than their ability to create a perfect model house.

One example of getting creative and moving this project online is to use the numerous room creator websites and applications available on the internet. Faced with this opportunity, I explored three very different platforms, each with their own educational merits:

In this first example, a free website created by a Korean furniture company, iloom, students can easily furnish and decorate a room in a house by selecting and moving furniture. The interface is in students’ L1, which is suitable if the learning objective is not to produce a picture of a room, rather to describe it in L2. When developing learning objectives, teachers must take students’ language proficiency into consideration. If the process of producing a project to too difficult, students may fail to achieve the true desired outcome.  

This particular platform allows students to take a 3-dimensional tour of the virtual room they or their classmates have created by adjusting the view icon. Imagine how engaging and interactive a gallery walk of these model rooms can be!

This particular website offers a distinctive learning opportunity as well. Students are able to get a statement of the cost of all the furnishings they had chosen for their particular room. To make learning even more impactful, the integration of subjects of skills is an effective approach. Seize the opportunity to teach students about budgeting or art (color, design, textures, etc.) or mathematics (area, size, perimeter, etc.) in tandem with this language project.

Source: https://iloom.urbanbase.com/

The following two websites, also free room creator platforms, are in English. If a language teacher finds an authentic learning opportunity in having students interact with and navigate a website in L2, there are online resources at various language levels and interface complexity.

This website offers a basic and simple layout. The ease of its “drag and drop” user experience is intuitive and accessible. One noteworthy feature of this following website is that students are able to print a comprehensive list of furniture they chose. A vocabulary list is a useful tool to scaffold students’ writing.

Source: http://www.planyourroom.com/

This final example is a more complex model with a higher variety of advance language. While being less user friendly than the previous two websites, it offers high proficiency students an opportunity to interact with new or unfamiliar terms in a meaningful way. This difference can allow teachers the ability to differentiate instruction with just one project.

Source: https://roomstyler.com/3dplanner

This is just one example of a way you can integrate online tools into a project straight out of the curriculum. It only takes a little bit of time and effort to explore different ways to engage your students whether classes are online or in the classroom!

Utilizing Online Tools for Classroom Projects

Recent times have created unprecedented shifts in our classrooms. Suddenly, teachers around the world were thrusted into online classrooms, platforms, and required to scramble for resources appropriate for distanced learning. In the era of ever-evolving technology and content, it has been a challenge to keep learning in the classroom meaningful and relevant for our students. Teachers are confronted with the task to create activities and projects that allow students to demonstrate mastery of content and make creative connections, all the while with the added complication of online learning. The following ideas and examples were developed with the idea that teachers can use our new reality to promote engaged, active, meaningful, and socially interactive learning. 

Using Social Media or Website Templates

A versatile tool for teachers is editable PPT templates. They can be created on Google Slides or PowerPoint. Once a template is created, students can insert pictures, text, and content to meet project requirements. Social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, provide familiar layouts for students to display research or reading projects. Creating reviews or blogs are relevant and meaningful tasks for students that require creativity. Creating content can be made easier with set templates and online resources, such as photos, illustrations, or video clips. These resources lessen the work load of completing projects and allow students more time and flexibility to focus on demonstrating their understanding and creativity. In a technology-less classroom, these templates can be printed and reproduced for traditional-styled projects.

Extensive reading projects completed on PPT templates of a Facebook profile (Images from Netflix’s “Anne with An ‘E'”)
Extensive reading project completed on PPT templates of an Instagram post (Images from pinterest.com)

What type of templates should I create?

When considering the type of social media or website platform to use as a classroom project or activity, think about which websites or type of social media is the most popular with (or most familiar to) your students. This creates motivation when students recognize something that is relevant or connected their own lives. The more associations we can build between the content students learn in the classroom to the content they encounter in the real world, the more meaningful learning becomes. If access to technology and internet is no longer a barrier in our “new” classrooms, use these tools for an educational advantage—have students create actual social media posts to be shared, blogs or websites to be viewed, and projects where they can socially interact with their classmates or a wider community.  

Project based on a Trip Advisor review template
Post-reading activity completed on a template of a Twitter post (Images from movie adaptation of “The Giver”)
Post-reading activity completed on a template of a messenger application

Source: Presentation templates by SlidesCarnival

Creating a template from scratch can seem like a daunting task. There are some free and paid (Teachers Pay Teachers) resources out there that are great in the time crunch. There are benefits in creating your own templates: scaffolding student work, making the task level-appropriate, or adding different components to one project. The most important thing to remember is to provide your students with an example. Show them what type of work you expect and watch them exceed your expectations!