Have you ever tried your hand at DIY? Maybe transform that old side table into a beautiful mosaic, install a garden in your backyard, or make one of those fancy multi-tiered cakes?

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Topic: Core Academic Skills, Content, and Dispositions

Email 5 (of 9)

Have you ever tried your hand at DIY? 

Maybe transform that old side table into a beautiful mosaic, install a garden in your backyard, or make one of those fancy multi-tiered cakes?

A lot of times it’s hard to finish a project like this, because you realize you don't know how to use the tools, or you don't understand how the parts fit together, or you just don’t have the will to see it through. When you’re doing projects with students in the online format, it’s important to make sure that students are prepared with all the tools - literally and figuratively - they need to be successful.
Otherwise known as the “meat” of the project, this part of the course is all about how to introduce academic subject knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
Whether virtual or in-person, great projects are designed for students and teachers to collaborate to understand and apply core academic skills and content, and develop positive academic dispositions. Projects integrate hands and minds and incorporate inquiry across multiple disciplines, leading to the creation of meaningful and beautiful work. 
When you start designing a PBL curriculum, you will probably wonder, “How do I integrate academic content?” In great examples of PBL, we develop knowledge by engaging students in the process of the project. In practice this means that students learn about important topics through the process of making a short documentary, or that students master science concepts through their experiments.

Activity #1: Create a list of 5 resources and then highlight the 2 best ones


Activity Notes:

The purpose of this activity is to have you explore the variety of resources that you can include to help students learn new academic knowledge and skills.

Considerations for including additional resources:

  • Before you look for your resources, make sure to prioritize which knowledge and skills are the most important for your students to be successful with completing this project.
  • Accessibility! Remember that you may have students who have limited access to technology, limited data plans, or slow internet connections.
  • Include multiple ways for students to connect based on digital access, different abilities, and their learning preferences.
  • Provide options for engagement, but not too many options. Highlight resources that learners have to engage with, and then provide more resources separately for students who may want to explore further.

Activity #2: Design a project resource that scaffolds a multi-step activity for students


Activity Notes:

The purpose of this activity is to have you think about how to guide students through a multi-step activity. 

Ideas for designing your project resource:

  • Consider creating a digital handout, a written tutorial with images and screenshots, or a video tutorial that guides students through the process. 
  • Different types of resources will be more or less helpful for students depending on the core content or skill you are teaching, so experiment with different formats and keep track of what your students find helpful. 
  • Keep in mind that some students may need a hard copy of the resource to have next to them while they complete the task, so think about how easy it would be for a student to print out a copy.
  • For video or audio tutorials: speak slowly, enunciate clearly, create a script to follow with clear instructions, and insert pauses - maybe even literally saying “pause and do this now” - so that students can easily navigate between different steps as they complete the activity.
This is the part of the emails where I start talking in the first person and tell you all the cool things I did in my project “Happy Science” that exemplify this email’s subject area.

The most important thing I wanted my students to get out of this project was to learn about how to practice different skills to actually introduce habits of happiness in their lives. I also hoped students would learn to read and analyze complex texts to understand different perspectives of happiness.

I created two main resources to support students to engage with this project deeply while working remotely (and largely independently). The first was a reading journal that I adapted to a Google Form to help me understand how students were tackling those complex texts. The second was a “Personal Pursuit of Happiness” which I designed as a digital handout to guide students through the different steps of collecting their data.


The resources for this section consist of samples that you can reference to help you complete the activities for this lesson. Additional resources can be found by going to the course landing page.


Sample Core Academic Skills Email
This is a sample project email with activities, assignments, and highlighted resources.


Sample Multi-Step Activity Scaffold
This is a sample of a digital handout that students could copy and complete on their own to help them complete a multi-step assignment.

Next Steps

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