3rd Graders as Project Managers

Mitch Lacey has a great blog entry (Even 3rd Graders are Project Managers) about how he uses project management techniques with his third grader. It sounds like a great technique and is decidedly low tech - note cards on a cork board. I think it will work for a lot of students at a wide range of ages. Plus it got me thinking about project  management in education in general.

Just how well do we teach children to manage their time? Oh sure there are a lot of one offs through the years where teachers talk about things like using assignement notebooks and things like that. But how often are they a part of the course? I think that computer courses, especially programming courses, are a great place to talk about project management. And to make it part of the course.

I'm not talking about just making sure that students write their assignments and due dates in a notebook either. There are other aspects of project management. Here is an excerpt from Mitch's blog:

Each card gets the following attributes:

  • Assignment name
  • Estimated time to complete
  • Date due

Once complete with the assignment, she will add the following information:

  • Actual time to complete
  • Actual date turned in
  • Grade (once provided by the instructor)

She is free to add additional items on the card, like where she found the information, how she liked the assignment, and so on.  On the board, create three areas - "Queued (or pending), Active, Completed".  This allows you (and her) to see what the backlog of work is, how much work your child has bitten off at any given time and how much work has been completed over time.

I think there are "extra" attributes there that are very valuable but not always required of students. Think about the value of comparing estimated time to complete with actual time to complete for example. If that isn't a valuable teaching tool I don't know what is. Even in an individual course you may have overlapping projects so the Queued, Active and Completed organization can be valuable.

I think that for managing a larger project, a semeseter review project or a large team project, you might ask students do document the individual parts of those projects as well. If third graders can learn about project management than high school students should be able to do it as well.

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