Do you remember the trailer for that new show on Netflix that you never got around to watching?
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Topic: Project Launch

Email 2 (of 9)

Do you remember the trailer for that new show on Netflix that you never got around to watching?

Of course not!

The trailer for that show didn’t do quite enough for you to jump in and start binging. The trailer is the “launch” of a new show, and it provides valuable information to the audience—the main characters, the setting, the problem, and, importantly, emotional significance—to build important schema so we can follow the show and we want to.
Our first lesson, “Project Launch” asks you to think about how you will create a dynamic project beginning with your students. A project launch is an engaging, active experience that invites multiple perspectives and fosters diverse, innovative thinking. The project launch typically offers students a common experience in an authentic context, setting the stage for later learning. 

The project launch is often "the project in a nutshell." After the launch, students can visualize the arc of the project, the products, the users, the purpose, the importance and understanding—all of this helps to provide the fuel for making the most of the rest of the project.

Online project launches may seem challenging, but they are even more important to do because it allows you to generate excitement for your project which in turn helps you evaluate the energy towards the project your students have as they start. Immediately assess your student’s starting fuel and follow up with students who may have more difficulty engaging with the project for whatever reason.

Activity #1: Create a high-energy plan for your project launch


Activity Notes:

The purpose of this activity is to generate an idea for your project launch. Remember that the goal for the launch is for students to engage meaningfully with the project, feel embraced by a community working and learning together, and know that their work has value to others besides themselves. 

Ideas for your online project launch:

  • Do it together!
    If there was a time to get everyone together, it would be at the project launch. 
  • Create a short project trailer
    to introduce the project and share what makes you
    excited about it. 
  • Create an opportunity for students to try out the behaviors of a professional.
    In a history project, can students analyze historic photos or conduct an interview on day #1? In a science project, can students try a simple experiment or do their own exploration with little to no “frontloading” of instruction? 
  • Help the students visualize the final product
    by showing them models from experts, former students, or an example you have created yourself (this is very helpful!).
  • Invite students to publicly share their excitement 
    about for the upcoming project and create a private space for them to express their concerns.
  • Invite an expert!
    Experts can create momentum for your project by framing its importance, sharing authentic research, or showing real-world examples.

Activity #2: Write your first email to your students with the project overview


Activity Notes:

The purpose of this activity is to have you think through what the first communication about your online project will be with your students and to consider what information your students need at the very start of your project. 

Considerations for writing your first email:

  • Use heading and formatting to help break up the information and help students skim to get the most important ideas
  • Consider including icons or images to break up the text and help illustrate the information
  • Focus on what students will make or do, what they will learn, and who their final products are for. Detailed lists of assignments and point values can come later, or be posted online. 
  • Keep it simple and reduce your word count as much as you can
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.

Before the project launch, I sent an email to my students that briefly outlined the project, especially what students would be doing. I outlined the questions that I thought my students would have about how they were going to do this project online and created a space for students to share their concerns about the project before it launched.

For the launch, I reached out to the creators of Dear Data, the project that inspired my Happy Science project. One of the artists responded immediately and agreed to share student work on her social media page.

This ACTUALLY happened - how cool right?! 

They didn’t have time to join us for our launch, but they did direct me to a super cool project trailer that they created for their book. During the actual project launch, I showed two project trailers: a dorky one that I created, and a professional one that the authors of Dear Data created. I “went live” on social media and students posted live comments to share what they were excited about in the upcoming project.


The resources for this section consist of samples that you could reference to help you complete the activities in this lesson. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.


Sample Project Launch Email
This email provides a brief outline of the project and the “need-to-know” information for students at the start of an online project.


Template Email to Invite Experts
This is adapted from an email that I wrote to the authors of Dear Data. If you decide to do the Happy Science Project, post students’ final products and tag the author @stefpos and she might reshare your students’ work!

Next Steps

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