This is the first year that I'm seeing our honors project process from a parent's point of view. I thought it might be helpful for me to write about what I'm doing at home with my parent hat on. I'll be writing more about our personal project process in general in upcoming blogs.
Over break I sat down with my son James who is a Robin. We only found one book on his topic in the library so I did a search on Amazon and found two more books at his reading level. Luckily they were used books and were very reasonably priced. I also did a search on the Internet and found 4-5 web based resources for him to check out. We've found that successful web searches are very difficult for students this age to do independently. They have difficulty coming up with search strands that are effective and cannot quickly determine the usefulness of a source.
I printed out one of the web resources which was especially difficult - that way we could read it together and make notes in the margins.
We went to the office supply store to pick out just the right index cards. He chose color coded cards that are on a spiral because he didn't want to lose any. When it comes time to organize his notes into paragraphs, he'll take them off the spiral. He also chose a folder to keep his timeline in along with his questions of wonder and any other papers he produces. All of these we put in a bag along with the books that he is using. He can take the whole bag to meetings with his mentor and not worry about forgetting things.
He went through his questions and grouped them into categories which he assigned colors. He knows that he'll take notes on more things than just the answers to the questions and these categories will help him organize that information. The colors match his index cards.
We also went onto his Google drive account and set up an honors project folder. We put a spread sheet in it where he typed in all of the resources he has so far (author's name, title, and publication date). Each resource is assigned a number so he can write that resource number and the page number on the index card when he takes a note. That way he can go back if he has a question (or if his mentor has a question).
He also made a "general notes" page where he is keeping a copy of the timeline, his category colors and I dropped in the websites that I thought he might find useful.
He e-mailed his mentor to set up a good time to meet now that we are underway. He'll meet weekly with his mentor to share progress and set the next goal.
Finally we decided on a work schedule. He talked about liking to sit down and have a large block of time to work. He didn't want to get all of his stuff out for just a few minutes of work. Because I know that he tends to like to focus on one thing for long periods, I thought his plan to work for an hour or two each weekend day would work. Many kids prefer to schedule half hour blocks 4-5 nights a week. It really depends on your child's work style and your family's schedule.
Whew! That seems like a lot but there were a lot of details to get things going. It was important to set up a structure and get everything in place so that he could move forward independently. You may have noticed I used the "we" pronoun often. Most students this age need help breaking down the steps of a large project like this and then structuring an approach for those steps. As we worked together, I talked to James a lot about what he thought would work. It got a lot less overwhelming to him as we set up the various pieces.