Project Work

Notes from a workshop given by Didi Anandarama

Project work is based on in-depth studying of particular topics that teacher and students undertake together as a result of collective discussionGuiding philosophy: “Educated are those who have learnt much, remembered much and made use of their learning in practical life” – Shrii P. R. Sarkar
Project work is experiential and aims at long-term memory. It is part of the NHE Teaching Methodology, preferred methods for long term learning:

  • Service (local and global)
  • Projects
  • Drama
  • The Arts (music, dance, fine arts, crafts)
  • Games
  • Hands-on
  • Visits and visitors coming into class and telling about their work
  • Literature Extensions

Characteristics of project work are fluidity versus control, emergent versus prepared curriculum and questioning versus knowing the answers. Especially during project work the teacher views a the child as strong, powerful, rich in potential, as partner and driven by the power of wanting to learn, know and grow.

Three types of projects

  • The school theme projects that all children will do in the course of one year.
  • The daily life projects spontaneously emerge during circle time or daily life at school.
  • The self-managed projects are set up for the children to do independently, alone or with a friend. They can be collective, in small groups or individual.

Benefits of project work

  • Child’s mind is engaged in challenging work, making decisions, coordination, resolving conflicting views of contributors etc.
  • Project work increases children’s confidence in their own intellectual powers, and strengthens their dispositions to go on learning.


  • Can emerge from children’s ideas and/or interests
  • Can be provoked by teachers
  • Can be introduced by teachers knowing what is of interest to children: shadows, puddles, tall buildings, construction sites, nature, etc.
  • Should be long enough to develop over time, to discuss new ideas, to negotiate over, to induce conflicts, to revisit, to see progress, to see movement of ideas
  • Should be concrete, personal from real experiences, important to children, should be large enough for diversity of ideas and rich in interpretive / representational expression

At the beginning of a project

  • Discussions emerge and ideas take shape. The students talk and are listened to. The children are encouraged to make their own decisions and choices, usually in cooperation with their peers, about the work to be undertaken.

(Teachers take notes on what is said or tape record the conversation to transcribe later and add to the display of the documentation of the project)

Role of the teacher

  • To co-explore the learning experience with the children
  • To provoke ideas, solve problems and resolve conflict
  • To take ideas from the children and return them for further exploration
  • To organize the classroom and materials together with children to be aesthetically pleasing
  • To document children’s progress: visual, videotape, tape recording, portfolios
  • To help children see the connections in learning and experiences
  • To help children express their knowledge through representational work
  • To have a dialogue about the projects with parents and other teachers
  • To foster the connection between home, school and community

Role of teacher and child

  • Teacher has high expectations of child’s ability to represent their thoughts, feelings and observations with graphic skills such as drawing, painting, sculpting etc.
  • When adults communicate sincere and serious interest in the child’s ideas and in their attempts to express them, rich and complex work can follow, even among very young children
  • Children sense what adults/teachers think
  • Children observe how you value their conversation and work
  • Children sense what you care for
  • Teachers and children examine topics of interest to young children in great depth and detail
  • Teacher-child relation is focused on the project (not on routine or child’s performance and academic tasks)
  • Both are children
  • Teacher and child meet on matters of real interest to both of them
  • Teacher listens to child’s suggestions, questions, interacting with each other rather than over-assisting.


  • Keen observation will reveal a wealth of information about students, about their development and about your work as a teacher.


  • For children to reflect on their own work
  • For children to connect to and reflect on other children’s work
  • For adults to reflect on children’s work
  • For families to relate to the project study and explorations of their children
  • To document children’s growth over time
  • To develop a complex and detailed picture of the child in all developmental areas
  • To provide a resource for the wider community of educators to understand children’s learning better.
  • To share with the community at large what is happening inside the school.
This wall collage was created by students at Vistara Primary school as part of a collective project on classroom rules. The students and teacher of each classroom come up with the rules and consequences together based on the underlying concepts of respecting each others learning and environment, etc.

Documentation presentations

  • Wall panels (with or without narrative)
  • Booklets
  • Poster board display
  • Student work assembled on cards
  • Books
  • Student portfolios of drawings or paintings
  • Paintings or drawings on large boards
  • Videos
  • CDs of photos or music