The Blog

Preparing for the Project Approach - Observing, Researching, and Recording

September 15, 2017

Project Approach is an important component to a Rohan Woods education.  We are committed to providing students with a strong foundation to live as productive adults.  While student outcomes support that our academic program is challenging and effective, we, too, recognize the importance of providing experiences that draw upon the ability to think critically, problem solve, be creative, communicate effectively and collaborate. 

Business leaders report the current employee applicant pool lacks several qualities to be successful in the workforce.  While a boss can teach isolated skills necessary to complete a given task, there are some skills that are difficult to teach in the workplace.  Work ethic, interpersonal skills, critical thinking and collaboration were cited as weaknesses directly impacting the new workforce in the St. Louis area.

Applicant Shortcomings

 Percentage of Applicants

Poor work ethic


Lack of communication or interpersonal skills


Lack of problem solving skills


Lack of teamwork or collaboration


Lack of writing skills


Inability to think creatively


Lack of willingness and ability to learn


Lack of basic math skills


Inability to understand written or graphical info



Precisely Why Project Approach Matters.

This first entry in the four-part series on Project Approach, focuses on the preparation for ensuing projects.  During the first few months of school, faculty explicitly teach age appropriate research skills to prepare our students to tackle Project with an educated, systematic approach. 

For Junior and Senior Kindergarteners, we start at the very beginning - how to use glue, cut with scissors, and create with Model Magic.  Students learn the correct way to use a magnifying glass to isolate details of an object.  Through this process, the children learn to document observations by drawing pictures and labeling parts.  This is also an opportunity to introduce the difference between fiction and non-fiction. 

As students get older, the learning becomes more skills oriented.  The First, Second and Third Graders are working on the importance of teamwork during Project Approach.  Goals are set for students to display teamwork, compassion, and the ability to listen to the ideas of others. Students learn to research through searching for meaningful information through websites suitable for primary students. In addition, books are available to extract facts and pertinent information. Children are learning to develop questions and use them appropriately during an interview of an expert.

Fourth Grade learns a variety of research strategies to prepare for the first project of the year.  It is important for students to understand how to use print resources, such as newspapers and magazines and cite them properly.  Students also discover how to navigate online sources learning that not all website are reliable and particularly some should not be trusted.   Fourth Graders also expand their skill sets by writing interview questions and appropriately delivering them to an adult, which is a great opportunity to practice poise and confidence. 

For the Middle Schoolers, research becomes more deliberate; focusing on technology, library science, presentation skills, and note taking. The students start this process by learning to critically read information online. They learn how to analyze facts and gather information from reliable resources. Students also learn the difference between .com, .edu, and .org while researching to generate appropriate questions and interview experts for more information. The importance of reliability of online resources is stressed by finding the same fact in multiple sources before using it in a presentation or as the foundation of a research strand. 

There are numerous ways our students prepare for the first project of the year, which is driven by developmental levels.  It’s quite remarkable to watch the students learn about trial and error, sticking with something even though it may be difficult and collaborating within a group. What wonderful skills our students of all age levels are acquiring!



Sam Templin-Page
Head of School

More from the Blog

Once a month, I teach a leadership class to the Sixth Grade students.  Our topics range from how to build leadership characteristics, to managing friendships, to the secondary school process.  My aim is to make the classes

Yesterday, four Second Graders unexpectedly arrived at my doorway, followed by Mr. Lou, our Director of IT. While I could hear their quiet banter back and forth, I was more keenly aware of the muffled giggles coming from them.

Yesterday an alumni parent arrived to transport our food donations to Moonlight’s Meals, a food pantry in Parkway School District.  Our Middle School students eagerly loaded boxes onto flatbeds and awaited instructions on how to best execute packing the cans and boxes of food into her van.