Sunday, December 12, 2010

Project X - Behind the Pics

When the 8th graders agreed to do this project with me, I had no idea what we were getting into. I had some ideas as to how it would go, but I still needed help. The 8th graders talked through some of the particulars such as how to get the pictures, how to organize them, and how to break up the days among themselves. The 8th graders were excited from the get go.

Many people have asked how we do it. It is really quite simple. We first looked at our registration forms to see which students’ parents had not signed off to have their child’s picture on a website. Next, I talked with my principal to get her permission for the project, so there is one person who knew what Project X was from the beginning. The 8th graders then took over and starting taking pictures. We brought in as many digital cameras as possible and began by just taking students pictures in the direction we need. After a little while it dawned on us that we should get each child looking North, South, East, West, as well as the in-between positions. The 8th graders decided that they wanted to be all the days of the week.

From there we went to work creating the calendar pages. We used a publisher page with a 7X6 table in it. Each student was assigned 2 calendar days and 2 devotions to write. The students then inserted a child’s picture into each box, with the staff members being the actual date. Some numbers had to be altered, for example we needed Student A holding a 5 instead of a 9. So we created “number surgery.”

The website was next. I played around with and decided it would meet our needs. So each publisher page was created, then saved as a JPEG image and then inserted into the Weebly web page. That picture is linked to the devotion page. No magic tricks, nothing fancy or too technical, just a bunch of clicks.

This project has taught me some things. I have learned that students can take a spark of an idea and turn it into something amazing! The 8th graders had great ideas for this project. I planted a seed, they made it grow. I was shown again that you never know what is going to happen. The students wanted to track hits to the site, so using Google Analytics we are now tracking it and that led to our goal of reaching all 50 states and 50 countries. I’ve learned that projects like this never stop growing. Once people saw the first few days, I was given the idea of the past days link. I’ve also learned that as excited as they were, the8th graders have gotten tired of tweaking the calendar. They need encouragement too.

I’ve also RE-learned that teaching is the best job in the world! Now on to some other big project!


  1. Isn't it great when you kind of "re-discover" teaching and a project exceeds your expectations? It truly is one of the best jobs in the world!

    Thanks for posting HOW you did the project. If you were to do the project over again, would you still use Publisher to make the pages? Was this a homeroom or your elective class? How did you assess individual student work?

    Thanks again for sharing. Your work sparked the imagination of many teachers I've come in contact with!

  2. Thanks for the comment Rob. I would use Publisher again. I would be better organized, take kids pictures differently, and start earlier. If I only knew then, what I know now. . . . This was with my 8th graders computer class. As for assess students, to be honest, they did themselves. This in no way was for a grade and they never asked if it was. They policed themselves and made sure pages were done for the most part. They lost a little steam, but then as they saw the comments coming in and saw how many countries and states were seeing it, they again they began to take more pride in it again. Then they got back to making sure pages looked nice and were done.

    Have a good one!!


  3. I love projects which start with a basic skeleton idea and leave the students plenty of room to add the flesh.

    And it's great to see lines like "The 8th graders then took over..."!

    Weebly looks like a great platform for easy to make and use websites. I've only played around with it a little bit but it seems so accessible that students could use it easily even with little prior experience.

    Thanks for sharing the details of your project!