In a project-focused classroom, the Processing phase is a crossroads of opportunities. It offers a chance to reinforce skills students worked on in the first two phases, to add on new skills, and to assess how well students are picking up and applying those transdisciplinary skills.
As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, the Processing phase is one last pass over the material you’ve gathered, discarding anything that doesn’t fit with the direction your project is moving and organizing what’s left. Students are highly engaged in applying their information literacy, critical thinking, and pattern recognition skills as they sort through bookmarks, notes, and anything else they may have generated or gathered in the first two rounds. By periodically reviewing what a student is sorting, you can see where they are in developing those skills.
The Processing phase is also a planning phase, the last one before actual work begins on the project. So for younger students, it’s an opportunity to teach goal setting, developing a plan, and organizing for an activity. They learn to pick a goal – the actual project they’ll be working on moving on, and breaking down that goal into the steps necessary to complete their project. They start thinking about what they need to complete each step, and start organizing their gathered material to support their work so they’ll have what they need at each step, or they’ll know what they’re missing ahead of time. For older students, this reinforces those same skills and offers the teacher an opportunity to see where students are in their acquisition of these skills.
In a classroom project where there is a single theme with each student or team working on a different aspect of that theme, the Processing phase is where those aspects are selected. The students have pulled together information about the theme, but now they’re using the Processing phase to find an aspect they find interesting, and then culling out the information and materials they will be working with to explore that aspect.
It’s a practical way to fine tune information literacy skills and apply organizational skills in a way that allows the teacher to see how each student is developing.