Dioramas Have a Place

From: David Shankbone via wikimedia.com
I am writing this post while sitting in a session that I will not name at ICE2011. During the session the presenter made the comment, “Hello, the 1980s called and it wants its assignment back.” The comment was in the context of a conversation about projects teachers ask kids to do. The speaker was insinuating that old school projects do not have a place in today’s classrooms. Specifically, the diorama and tri-fold boards were spoken poorly about. I would actually like to disagree with this.

First, if you read any of my work or have seen my student’s work, you know that I am all about high end technology infused projects. I toss technology in my kids hand if it will help them accomplish their specific learning goals. Technology and “techno” projects are a mainstay in my classroom on a daily basis.

I am a firm believer in giving student choice in their work, from projects to assessments. If a student is given choice then the project has value. If there is evidence of learning shown, then the method and product is irrelevant. A diorama, while outdated in some minds, still has value if it works for one student. Don’t throw a project out the window just because it has been around since your grandparent’s time. If it is still a viable tool for a student to demonstrate their learning, then it has value.

Bottom line, all projects have potential value. It is how they are used and if they engage students and can show evidence of learning. For some kids that diorama is going to work so let them do it!

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