Ditch the Physical Binders for Projects


 As a teacher, I never envied the teachers who did large projects and had to lug around huge collections of binders as part of the final project.  As a science teacher, I did not even like to haul around the science journals my students would turn in.  Collecting resources and developing different parts of a project are important aspects of learning in many cases and we can make this much more efficient and even more effective by using digital tools.  There are different ways we can do this and below are just a couple, but a key to using technology effectively is to never look at a the use of a tool in a singular way.  I could even imaging a student creating a video that has web links in the video to showcase their project resources and components.

Google Site
-One of the easiest ways to just create a Google Site.  Students can quickly create a site for their project, they could even use a template that you set up for the project or they could design their own site.  The students can create a different page for each section, include media other than just pictures and cite directly to the sources.  Students would be able to share this out with others, not just the teacher, to further the reach of their product.  Parents would be able to see the projects along with the teacher while the student is working on it, not just at the end.  Other students could view each others projects and help each other or even push towards a different idea or method for their project.
-LiveBinders is a resource that is designed to be a digital binder of resources and components for projects.  Students can quickly create their own account for free, pull in their resources and creations as part of their project to share out with the teacher or anyone they want.  LiveBinders is used by a lot of teachers to curate their own resources or to assist their classes but students can use this tool also to organize their own projects.  
Google Docs and Folders

 -You can even just use Google Docs instead to put together the resources for a project.  You can insert links in each document to take them to the other documents and you can put them all into a folder.  The students can share out the folders to the teacher and again, whoever they want.  They could easily work together with another student or group to put together the project which is something you could not do with a single, physical binder.  This becomes simple enough and it removes the existence of excuses such as forgetting it at home or it getting destroyed by water or a pet pig (yes, this is an actual excuse from a former student).

Beyond Substitution

     These examples are not just a digital substitution for the physical binder.  Each of these ideas add in extra functionality and possibility for the learning process.  We can increase collaboration by using digital tools that allow multiple people to work on the same thing at the same time or whenever they can.  We do not have to worry about groups not being able to get together outside of class as these tools remove that barrier and allow for asynchronous collaboration.  We can also increase communication as these projects can allow for more than just written text.  Often times video and other media allow for more communication of ideas and increase the engagement with the audience.  These projects can then also be shared with parents so they become part of the learning process as well as removing the idea that parents do not know what is going on in the classroom.

 There are many ways we can improve the activities of the past in order to strengthen the learning that is taking place.  There is not just one way to do this and you do not even need to dictate how they do that.  Giving students a choice in what they produce as long as it meets the learning goals, you can get more authentic examples of their learning.

2 thoughts on “Ditch the Physical Binders for Projects

    • Thanks, I appreciate the comment. I think this is important to help them learn to organize and make sense of their creations instead of just throwing it all together. Increased visibility will help with this too.

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