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What to include in a school project?

Project-based work is also a good way to encourage homeschoolers to engage in interest-based, self-directed learning.

Setting project-based school work allows home educators to give home-ed pupils open-ended studies of learning. A project on bees/transport /a historical era can start at KS1 and continue until KS4 or until their interest wanes: A long-term unit study.

A project (in our homeschool) means a folder of information about a topic or subject that our home learners can add to and come back to dip into. It’s an ongoing collection of information, recorded in a variety of ways, treated as a personal resource bank, created by the student who’ll use it.

A project should include

  • Background information

Anything we study has a history – projects must tell us something about the history of the topic or subject (like an intro paragraph when writing an essay).

  • Facts / Figures

Depending on the topic, how and what facts and figures are presented will vary, but again, if we’re writing about it as a school topic, there must be facts or figures around it.

  • Art in some form

This is a way of getting students to express themselves in different mediums, but also as a way of taking pressure off pupils who struggle with writing lots of text. There are many ways to share information and it doesn’t all have to be in written form. Illustrations, diagrams, storyboards etc can all make lessons more fun and allow students to express their knowledge in a way they’re comfortable with.

  • A Main Text

With project-based work, letting pupils choose whether to present work typed or handwritten gives them more control over their own style of learning. Typing can make writing easier.

With our homeschoolers, my only stipulation is that there needs to be a minimum of a one-page text block explaining whatever the project topic is. This ensures they read a minimum of three ‘pages’ in order to be able to turn out one page in their own words (we plagarise check afterwards so copy-paste is a no-go from the start). Setting a word/page count means homeschoolers get used to explaining ideas and facts in appropriate detail – at GCSE they will often be told how many pages an answer must fill so the sooner they start learning how to ‘fill a page,’ the easier that exam skill will be to learn.

If a subject is complex, it’s better to encourage students to spread the project text over two pages rather than attempting to stick to one where they’d have to overly summarise the information. At least until they get used to the concept of completing projects, it’s better for them to include too much information than not enough. Gradually they will learn to self-edit and it’s a skill set to be built upon in actual ‘lessons’.

  • A summary of the project

This could be a verbal summarisation alongside a power-point presentation, a paper-based summary that can be included in the file or another piece of artwork that summarises the topic explored.

Project based, interest-led schoolwork is a fun way of validating any hobby, interest or curiosity a learner has about absolutely anything – even video games.