The Curriculum as a Project Charter: Project Management for Teachers Part II

We can think of a teacher’s project as the fulfillment of a curriculum or a curricular component.  For instance, a project can be entitled “Seventh Grade English Language Arts.”  The lesson plan is a deliverable of that project and so it is tied to the curriculum and should contain elements of a project charter.

My lesson plans have the following headings:

Learning Outcomes – The learning outcomes were the standards I was following to create the lesson.  I was required to align my lessons with PA State Standards.  In later lessons, I would align them to the Common Core as well.

Learning Outcomes can be related to a project charter by thinking of them as some of the goals of a project – in this case the entire curriculum.  What do we want to do, not only in terms of the lesson, but the transfer of skills related to the standards the State has put forth for readiness for adult life?

Objectives of the Lesson – The objectives of the lesson are specific to that lesson.  By the end of the lesson, what should the students have done and be able to do in the future?

The objectives can be related to the project charter by thinking about project milestones.  What tasks should we complete successfully to reach that milestone in the curriculum?  What tasks will work toward fulfilling the outcomes desired?

Content – Project Charters often spell out what the components of the project are. Project managers explain what will happen during the project and what will not.  By explaining the scope of the project in detail, they are attempting to avoid scope creep, which is the addition of tasks and objectives over time.  Project Managers can refer back to the charter as these requests arise and decide if the request is valid, or can be deferred. Lesson plans can articulate the components of this part of the project, thereby also indicating what will not be included in the lesson.  I often plan too much, but have been told that was all right; too much is better than not enough.  The last thing I wanted was 25 students with nothing to do!

Characteristics of the Learners (“Where the Students Are”) – All projects should include a narrative about the stakeholders in the process.  What are their needs?  What are their strengths and challenges?  What problems are they trying to solve?  Your students are your primary stakeholders.

Prerequisite skills – Projects usually show what should be done before a project or milestone can start.  Lessons can show what skills students should have to complete this lesson, this part of the project.

Connections to the Curricular Framework – Answer this question: How is this project component related to the project?

Learning Theory Connections – I like to think about best practices when I make learning theory connections.  I like to answer questions such as

  • How will this lesson demonstrate the alignment to a particular learning theory or theories?
  • How will this lesson successfully implement suggestions provided by learning theorists?

Materials  – All projects and project components detail the supplies needed for the project and lesson plans should, too.

Learning Sequence – In project plans, which are often included in a project charter, the work breakdown structure sequences the tasks of a project numerically.  The learning sequence of a lesson plan would be a component of the overall work breakdown structure (WBS).

Culmination – This element describes what happens at the end of the lesson.  Think about the last task before reaching a milestone; that’s the culmination activity.

Extensions – The question that comes to mind here is: How can we take what we have learned here and transfer it to another lesson that is similar or to tasks in the future?  For projects, the question would be: How will this project component support future components?

Assessment Strategies – Project managers live and breathe metrics.  Assessments, both formative and summative are, basically, the same as metrics. Often in a project charter, you will find a reference to how the success of the project is determined by the metrics Project Managers will use.

Artifacts – These are the deliverables of the project or project component.

References – In a lesson plan, I always give credit where credit is due.  This bibliography component would probably not show up in a Project Charter, however.

The curriculum articulates the goals of a set of lessons and lesson plans reference back to those goals as teachers strive to explain what will happen during a particular lesson, why these tasks are important, what the students will produce during the lesson, and how the skills practiced will serve them in the future.

Your comments are welcome!

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