The Language of Projects: A Glossary of Terms Used in the Project Approach

Culminating Activities C A variety of activities during Phase 3 of a project, through which children summarize and explain their work and their findings to others.

Documentation C Processes of recordkeeping and samples of children's work at different stages of completion that reveal how children worked and the learning involved in the processes.

Field Visits C Planned visits to sites under investigation during a project.

Observational Sketches C Drawings and sketches made while observing actual objects or places as a means of gathering descriptive or quantitative data.

Problem Solving C A process employed by all people at all levels of maturity of discovering or deducing new relationships among things observed or sensed. A method involving clear definition of the problem confronted, formation of hypothetical solutions, and tests of the hypotheses, until evidence warrants acceptance of a hypothesis.

Project C An extended, in-depth investigation of a topic, ideally one worthy of children's attention and energy. Projects involve children in conducting research on phenomena and events worth learning about in their own environments.

Web or Topic Web C A graphic representation of the ideas associated with a topic.

Webbing C The process of discussion among teachers and children as they create a web.

The Projects Web Site

Sylvia C. Chard
University of Alberta, Canada
URL (Internet Address):

The Projects Web Site is designed to show successful project work. It provides teachers with a way to share a variety of projects carried out in preschool through junior high school settings. On the Projects Web Site we feature teachers' accounts of projects carried out in their classrooms. Graphics show topic webs, pictures of children actively engaged in projects, and samples of children's work. In the future links to other documents which discuss related issues such as assessment or parent involvement will be added.

A basic summary framework can be used to describe many different projects. On the Projects Web Site each story is introduced through a summary based on the framework outlined in the book Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach, by Lilian G. Katz and Sylvia C. Chard (Ablex, 1989). As the Web Site develops, the reader will be able to read a summary and then use the hypertext links to pursue particular details, or to see how the teacher resolved certain dilemmas or contributed to the discussion of particular issues.

On the Projects Web Site a reader will be able to find the summary of a project he or she is interested in, learn more details about the parts of the project which are of most interest, locate a discussion of the structural features of a project, and read a discussion of particular issues affecting teachers using the Project Approach.

A sample project. In one section of the Web Site there is a summary of the cafeteria project developed in the Child Study Centre of the University of Alberta Faculty of Education. The teachers and children studied the cafeteria in the Education Building. The summary provides an example of a project which has structural features which would be common to many other projects. Yet it also has some quite distinctive features.

Sharing ideas. Many teachers have expressed an interest in learning what other teachers have experienced as they have learned to work this way with the children in their classrooms. By means of this Web Site readers can access a large amount of detailed information about projects. Through the hypertext links they will easily be able to locate what they are most interested in and what is most personally relevant to them.

An invitation. This Web Site will be added to regularly as more stories are submitted for inclusion. Like all good World Wide Web sites, this site is always "under construction." This enhances its value and ensures that it remains responsive to teachers' current concerns. Instructions are provided on the Web Site for sending material to the editor. By sending in accounts of their own teaching, site visitors can become contributing members of an extensive network of teachers with similar interests and concerns.


PROJECTS-L is a Listserv discussion group for anyone interested in the use of the project approach in early childhood, elementary, and middle level education. For the purposes of this discussion list, the Project Approach is defined as "an in-depth study of a topic undertaken by a class, a group, or an individual child." Typically, the Project Approach refers to children's collaborative studies of "real world" topics that offer opportunities for observation and measurement of actual phenomena.

The PROJECTS-L discussion list is co-owned by Sylvia Chard of the University of Alberta and Dianne Rothenberg of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. For more information on the project approach, visit Sylvia Chard's Project Approach home page at:

For more information on ERIC/EECE, visit the clearinghouse's World Wide Web site at:

Access to Internet electronic mail is needed to subscribe (at no charge) to this discussion group. To subscribe to PROJECTS-L, send an email message to:

Leave the subject line of the message blank. In the body of the message, type:

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For more information about the PROJECTS-L list, please contact:

Dianne Rothenberg

Associate Director, ERIC/EECE
University of Illinois
51 Gerty drive
Champaign, IL 61820-7469
Phone:  (800) 538-4135
Sylvia Chard

Associate Professor of Education
Department of elementary Education
551 Education Building South,
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G5
Phone: (403) 492-0549

If you have technical questions about the PROJECTS-L list, or problems in using the list, contact the list administrator at:

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