Imagine a classroom getting ready to start working on a project. The teacher has just assigned the driving question–a question designed to look into the heart of a discipline and serve the purpose of organizing and driving activities in the project. Getting ready to plan activities for this project turns out to be a challenging task for the students. The teacher,who anticipates the difficulty,decides to break the task into more manageable sub-goals and provides them with a project template designed to systematically guide them through the core components of a project:defining the task,documenting information sources,recording observations,inferences and questions. Using this template helps students become task driven,thoughtful planners,focus on one small thing at a time and pay attention to details. As a result,students end-up gathering a meaningfully organized body of information they can rely on to answer the driving question and write their project conclusions.
A typical project in a planned project-based environment may begin in different ways. How to begin depends on students’grade level,their experience with project-based learning,and to what extent the teacher is ready to delegate responsibility to the student. Task assignments may be the first thing students decide on or it may come after the driving question,if students are the ones developing it. The decision to engage elementary students in project-based learning and train them to take charge of the process is quite demanding and most teachers don’t have the necessary time to make it happen. Therefore,teachers in my school prefer to assign the driving question,provide clear project specifications and assign specific roles to each team member in the group. This does not warrant that task assignments are predetermined by the teacher. Each member’s task is wide enough to break it down to clear steps and deadlines. Students engage in task assignments after they understand the assignment well enough and have a chance to generally overview the subject.
The process of task assignments follows the students’analysis of the role they assume. Based on their understanding of the role,they devise a set of steps and deadlines to perform it. Team work facilitates peer review,helping each member refine their task assignments. They also need to learn to synchronize their tasks,if task precedence is important for project completion. The tool that enables all this consists of a ‘Task Assignment Sheet’and an ‘Assignment List,’both part of a Google Site Projects Template created by me. The following section describes how to create a ‘Task Assignment Sheet’by breaking the task into the necessary steps and components that are needed for students to be able to use it and collaborate. It is very important that you perform these steps in the order they are listed. Otherwise,you may have problems with sharing the information correctly with all team members.
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How to Create A Task Assignment Sheet