Tony Vincent June 2011


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In project-based learning, students work over an extended period of time answering a driving question.  The question is so deep that it requires students to create a project to share their findings with others.

Process for learning through projects:

  1. Question
  2. Investigate
  3. Share

Video summary of Project Based Learning in Hand

5 Types of Responses to a Task

Projects take an extended period of time to complete.

Activities can be completed in a a matter of a few class periods.

Angela Maiers’ mantra: “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”

Do you want to cover material for students or do you want them to uncover it for themselves?

“The greatest obstacle to learning is coverage.” -Howard Garner

Create a grading rubric with student input. Rubistar is a great place to design rubrics.

Students can keep a PDF of the rubric in iBooks. Better yet, in GoodReader where they can make annotations on the document.

Example Driving Questions:

  1. How can we best stop the flu at our school?
  2. Is it worth the expense to move to an organic diet?
  3. Which element of the periodic table is most important?
  4. Should the U.S. use the metric system?
  5. Which simple machine is most important to you?
  6. Should government bail out businesses?
  7. Is it better to buy or lease a car?
  8. What if Rosa Parks never gave up her seat?
  9. Design a better lunch menu for your school.
  10. What if students use their own mobile devices in school?

Add parameters to the driving question to ensure that standards are met.

What makes a good vice president?

  1. Include the branch of government the position is part of.
  2. Include the roles and powers of the position.
  3. Explain how someone is elected or appointed to the position.
  4. Include information about at least two people who have held the position.
  5. Explain the role of the position in Gerald Ford's succession to presidency.
  6. Include how the office holder is positioned in the line of succession to the presidency.
  7. Include at least one map, chart, or graph.
  8. Give the project your personal touch.

Tony Vincent’s What Makes a Good Vice President narrated slideshow.

Example rubric for What Makes a Good Vice President?

Driving Question Tips

  1. Where are the standards/content used in the real world?
  2. Cannot be answered with copy and paste
  3. Will the result create something new?
  4. Student voice and choice
  5. Personal and/or local
  6. What? What if? Which?

Refine the Question

  1. Shorten as much as possible.
  2. Question should appeal to students.
  3. Make it personal or local.
  4. As much room for student voice and choice as possible.

An anchor activity gets students excited, interested, and curious about the topic of the driving question. Apps, podcasts, iTunes U content, and websites can be used in the anchor activity.

Idea Sketch is an app for concept mapping with diagram and outline views.

Notes, Evernote, or Google Docs for writing questions and taking notes.

Atomic Web Browser is a universal web browser app with tabs.

Side by Side for iPad allows for up to 4 web pages, notes, or drawings to be displayed at once.

Duet Browser for iPad shows two web browser windows at once. Both windows can have tabs. You can make one window be a Google Doc for taking notes.

Numbers can be used for data collection and graphing.

Edutopia has great videos about project-based learning.

Giving students a choice in how they present their project increases authentic engagement.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath has some principles that can help students make more effective projects, no matter how they choose to share them.

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Record audio using iPod touch’s built-in Voice Memos app or download an app like Audio Memos SE for iPad. Audio recordings can be used for interviews, skits, and reports. Even better is GarageBand. Listed to Radio WillowWeb for examples.

Speaking Tips

  1. Enunciate clearly
  2. Speak at a normal volume
  3. Talk as if you are speaking to a friend
  4. Prepare & practice
  5. Record in short portions
  6. Reduce background noise
  7. Smile!

The Photos app is where images are saved to and imported from.

Comic Touch Lite is a free iPod touch app for adding speech bubbles and call outs to an image.

Strip Designer is a $2.99 universal app for making comic books.

Adobe Photoshop Express is a free universal app for rotating, cropping, and enhancing images.

SonicPics is a $1.99 iPod touch app for narrating a series of images. It has no time limit. The Lite version has a three-slide limit.

StoryKit is a free iPod touch app for creating a web page with boxes. Each box can contain text, images, and an audio recording. See Tony Vincent’s What Makes a Good Vice President example.

FlipBook Lite is a free app for drawing animations. There is no text tool. One animation can be share to the website. The full version of Flipbook is $4.99.

iMovie, Splice Free, and Videolicious for movie-making.

Puppet Pals for iPad or Puppet Pals for iPhone for making narrated puppet shows. is the “dead simple place to post anything by email.” Accounts are free and it’s a great way for students to turn in work and share projects.  Check out as an example and read more about using Posterous for blogs and podcasts.

App Resources

  1. for educational app reviews by educators
  2. Tony Vincent’s list of lists of educational apps
  3. Tony Vincent on Twitter often tweets educational apps that are on sale.
  4. Twitter users are tagging tweets that mention an educational apps with #edapp. Search Twitter for #edapp to see them.

Check out Mobile Learning Experience 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Will be scheduled for April or May.

Email Tony Vincent with questions and successes!