Writing a Project Scenario

Prerequisites:

You must have your project proposal approved by your instructor.

Purpose:

To explain the goals of the scenario
To give direction for writing your project scenario

Goals:

Your scenario is a vision of your project in action! It is a tool that can help you anticipate problems and decide how to work through them. Use it to create "twists and turns" that will maintain the focus on your goals and continue to keep your students involved. It is a narrative version of what someone might see, hear and feel if they were visiting your classroom. It is an opportunity for others to 'see' what your project might look like in practice. If you are an LRC director, technology specialist, or staff developer you, too will want to show how you interact with the students/participants as they are involved in their project. Your scenario should show the reader your role in the project implementation.

1) Writing the scenario helps you think through and visualize what types of things may happen in the classroom.

2) Writing the scenario helps you anticipate resources (electronic, human, and process) that may be needed by your students as they work through the project.

3) The scenario gives a much clearer picture of your project to other educators who are looking at your project on the Web to see if it would be useful for their students.

4) Writing the scenario helps the support staff and classroom teachers develop and clarify how they will work together to implement the project. Thinking about this ahead of time makes it more likely that you will think of all the ways to support and assist staff in the project implementation, thus allowing a smooth start.

5) Writing the scenario helps your facilitator understand how you envision the project. This "picture" makes it possible to give feedback on several project aspects that might not come up otherwise.

If team members work with students in different classrooms, the scenario can also help you identify how the project might play out differently for students at a different grade level, subject, ability level, or class "personality."

It is most helpful to brainstorm your ideas separately, before meeting with your team, so that unique, individual ideas will not be lost.

Starting to Write:

Project teams have organized their scenarios in different ways. Some choose to have each teacher write a separate scenario, while others work to collaborate on different sections of one project scenario. For other ideas and examples of how you might organize your group's scenarios, read the information found at the bottom of this page.

To get started you might want to pretend you are a "fly on the wall" observing the participants and facilitators interacting, solving problems, and making choices. What do you observe? What are the students saying to each other? (Using dialogue in the scenario is a powerful device to illustrate the climate, student roles, and facilitator roles in an engaged learning project.) What questions are they asking? What choices have they discovered in their investigation and how are they decided? (Including answers to this question will demonstrate student self-direction in your project.)

You may wish to include a brief introduction to establish the context before launching into the narrative. Describe the beginning and ending events and anything else that is important that might occur in the middle of the project. The questions below are provided as a guide. Decide which are relevant and useful in order to "paint a picture" for the reader. Be as concise as possible when you write.

Use third person, active voice. Maintain best hopes! Enjoy the journey!

  • What grade level?
  • What curriculum area(s) and specific topics are being addressed?
  • What learning technologies are available and are being utilized?
  • What is the length of unit?
  • How long is each class period?
  • What would the teacher(s) be seeing, doing and saying? And with what result?
  • What would the students be doing or saying? And with what result?
  • Who else is involved besides the teacher(s) and students?
  • How is the assessment being carried out?
  • How are the students grouped?
  • What resources are being used?

Here are a few examples:

We realize how time-consuming writing a scenario may be, but we have found no tool more useful in creating successful projects. The scenario will be the best tool to communicate your project to others on the Web. By writing the scenario ahead of the project implementation, you will be able to anticipate possible problems as you implement your project and be certain that you have included the majority of the indicators of engaged learning and best use of technology.

But if you are not a classroom teacher, you have an even greater need to write the scenario ahead of time to facilitate and coordinate with the classroom teacher to implement the project effectively. Working together to write the scenario is powerful planning and will lead to greater success.

Click here to view the rubric that will be used to assess your written scenario.

Struggling with writing a scenario?

A scenario can be overwhelming. Let's try breaking it down into three smaller parts: beginning, middle, and end.

Beginning:
How is the project introduced and how does it get started?
How is the project "hooked into the task?"
How do you turn the problem over to the students so they begin their action plan?

Middle:
List and explain the typical activities students and teachers are doing?
What tools/materials are students using?
Explain the roles students and teacher play during the project?
What twists or new challenges are introduced?
How is the teacher troubleshooting?
 
End:
What is happening at the end of the project?
What are the students producing to reflect their learning?
What aspects of the projects are brought to closure? What aspects are ongoing?
How are the projects shared with the class, local community, or the Internet community?

Organizing multiple scenarios for one project:

There are a number of different ways to organize scenarios for a team with multiple members. Be sure to discuss options with your teammates. Also check with your facilitator for any course-specific directions concerning your scenarios.

Option 1. Each participant's scenario is posted on its own unique Web pages.


Two scenario examples from the What Have You Read Lately?project.
Scenario 1 - This scenario Illustrates the project from the classroom teachers perspective. http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/library/ronscenario.html
Scenario 2 - This scenario illustrates the project from a technology specialist's perspective. http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/library/scenarioMaW.html

Two scenario examples from theFlooding Rivers project.
Scenario 3 - This scenario describes a 6th grade class at Kingswood Girl's Middle School, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/floodingrivers/scenariomi.htm
Scenario 4 - This scenario describes a 5th grade class at Lawton School in Ann Arbor Michigan. http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/floodingrivers/scenariobrian.htm

Option 2. Participant's combined scenarios posted on one Web page with common information at the beginning and then a section for each team member to describe their role or to describe what happens with their students.


This scenario example is from theSave the Nature Trail project.
Scenario 5 - This scenario contains the perspectives of a 2nd grade teacher, a 7th grade teacher and the technology support person they work with on their multiage project.
http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/naturetrail/scenario.html

Option 3. Participants' scenarios on one page together with information about what happens for each educator role and each classroom interwoven throughout.

This scenario example is from theWe Never Promised You a Greenhouse project.
Scenario 6 - This scenario contains the prespectives of highschool teachers working with students in grades 9, 11 and 12.
http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w99/projects/greenhouse/scenario.html

This scenario example is from healAbout Water project.
Scenario 7 - This scenario contains the perspectives of a third-grade teacher and a ninth-grade science teacher.
http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w99/projects/allh2o/scenario.html

If the classrooms involved in the project are very different, such as a second grade classroom and a seventh grade classroom, it may be easier and less confusing for the reader to go with separate scenarios. Regardless of how the scenario(s) are organized, it is important to include the information about what each educator team member will be doing during the project and what might happen differently in different team member's classrooms.