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Creating Interdisciplinary Projects through Signature Projects

Session 6
Shannon Schmidt, Lindsay Kelland, Emma Parsons — Garrison Forest School

Signature Projects are in-depth investigations by nature and interdisciplinary by approach. They help students to uncover more of the world around them and take a more comprehensive approach while actively learning, solving problems, thinking creatively and working collaboratively. Projects are driven by essential questions that cover a wide scope and sequence of contents and skills that students begin to develop and eventually master. Currently we have two signature projects per grade level in the middle school„ that are refined from year to year, but do not require teachers to go back to the drawing board or to reinvent the process. Using a matrix of 14 skills from the "21st Century Skills from the Glossary of Education Reform", Signature Projects were built around these skills making sure that each was covered in multiple projects during the three years. For example, skills such as: - Inquiry based research skills and practices - Civic, ethical and social justice literacy - Connecting to community and developing partnerships - Economic and financial literacy, entrepreneurialism Some of the projects are embedded in classes during normal schedule hours, connected by a day-long culminating event at the end, while others take students out of classes for a week and completely abandon their regular schedule. In all of the signature projects there is some type of culminating event or project that displays what the students have learned. We have adapted and changed them over time to meet the needs of our student, size of classes, time constraints and to reflect feedback. We hope that this session could give you ideas of how you could begin the process of creating your own framework for Signature Projects, or maybe spark an idea for an interdisciplinary lesson that could grow into something more over time. We have found that the students walk away with an in-depth level of understanding of subject matter, while having a great time in the process. Students look forward to each and every signature project as a way to connect with one another and to learn something new and unexpected! Come learn about ways to help students make meaningful connections!

Conversational Practice

We plan to a lot a of time for discussion within small groups about how this could work at your school or what you are already doing.

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