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

object or item related to the project topic (e.g., a sling or stethoscope in a hospital project)
Culminating Activities
A variety of activities during phase three of a project, through which children summarize and explain their work and their findings to others.
Habits of mind that include a variety of tendencies to interpret and make sense of experience (e.g., dispositions to theorize, analyze, hypothesize, predict, persist in seeking solutions, and speculating about cause-effect relationships).
Processes of record keeping and samples of children's work at different stages of completion that reveal how children worked and the learning involved in the processes.
In project work, an expert is anyone who has knowledge or skills related to the topic that they can share with children.
Field Visits
Planned visits to sites under investigation during a project.
Questions about the topic generated by the children are asked of an expert or visitor to the classroom.
Observational Sketches
Drawings and sketches made while observing actual objects or places as a means of gathering descriptive and quantitative data.
Phase One (beginning the project)
Phase one involves topic selection, recording what is known about a topic, and generating questions for investigation.
Phase Two (developing the project)
Phase two is the period of active investigation of the topic. This phase usually includes field site visits and interviews of experts. Children represent their understanding of the topic through art, music, play, and verbal expression.
Phase Three (concluding the project)
In phase three, children and teachers reflect about what they learned and share the story of the project with others.
Problem Solving
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.
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.
Project Display
A shelf, table, or section of the room where objects, books, and other resources related to the project topic are made accessible for children to study.
Project History Book
A book that tells the story of children's in-depth exploration of the project topic. It often includes a narrative of the project, photos, children's work, and both child and teacher reflections.
Project Night
An evening event for parents and the community in which a school or center will exhibit documentation on a variety of topics.
Web or Topic Web
A graphic representation of the ideas associated with a topic.
The process of discussion among teachers and children as they create a web.