Duke School's Educators Institute brings educators from around the world to Duke School for onsite project work, curriculum training and exploration. We welcome preschool, elementary and middle school teachers, curriculum specialists, team leaders and school administrators. Please read more about our two-day programs - Preparing Problem Solvers and Innovators: An Intro to Project Work, Innovation Institute, Seminars in Project Work: A Deeper Dive Institute, as well as our Summer Project-in-a-Week Institutes. 


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Project Approach Model

Duke School bases its project work on the Project Approach model developed by Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard. Katz ​and Chard define a project as an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of student time, attention ​and energy. In planning, teachers select a real world topic based on student interest, the school’s curriculum standards and the availability of resources. The Project Approach follows three distinct phases: 

Phase 1: Beginning A Project 

The teacher uses an activity or discussion as a springboard to discover what students know about the topic. Students share topic-related stories and represent their knowledge through drawing, writing, photography, drama, and oral sharing, and their representations are posted throughout the room. During this phase, the teacher evaluates the students’ abilities to discuss their knowledge and formulate important questions.

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Phase 1: Beginning A Project 
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Teachers arrange for students to do field work and interview guest experts to answer their questions. The teacher also provides resources at school to help children with their investigations. These resources may include real objects, print, videos, or internet resources. The teacher evaluates each student’s planning, follow-through, details in observation, research, ability to apply academic skills, and ability to work cooperatively with others.

Phase 2: Developing A Project
Phase 2: Developing A Project
Phase 3: Concluding a Project

Teachers and students plan and prepare for a culminating event during which each student or small group of students take the role of experts and share with others what they have learned. Teachers help students select material to share and involve them in reviewing and evaluating their work. They also help them select the method by which they will share their knowledge, which allows students to capitalize on their interests and talents. 

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Phase 3: Concluding a Project

​- Chard, Kogan & Castillo (2017). Picturing the Project Approach. Gryphon House.
- Katz, Chard & Kogan (2014). Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach, Third Edition. Praeger.

Kathy Bartelmay, Curriculum Director, Duke School

PATEN (Project Approach Teacher Education Network) Trainer

© 2017, K. Bartelmay, Duke School


Duke School is an independent preschool through eighth grade project-based school. We inspire learners to boldly and creatively shape their future. Duke School serves as a leading educational institution both within the Triangle and wider educational community.

Students leave Duke School with the ability to think independently and critically. They are prepared to take their place in the global community in which collaboration and strong communication skills are essential. Our students not only master skills of traditional academic disciplines, but they also develop ​a sense of self, community, and culture. Duke School graduates are given the tools to confidently solve many types of problems, focus ​on ​important details, work cooperatively and resolve conflicts. ​

Duke School has worked with Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard, founders of The Project Approach, for more than 20 years, and is designated as an official Project Approach School.




Planning to explore Durham, North Carolina while you're in town? We love this area and guarantee that you will too! Visit Discover Durham for more information about hotels & inns, restaurants, local events and things to do.



Duke School has a group of reserved rooms at a discounted rate per night for institute participants at the Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center. 

This Hilton Garden Inn features complimentary WI-Fi and a 24-hour Business Center, complimentary fitness center, pool and a full-service restaurant on the property providing everything you need to make your stay successful. When calling to reserve a room for this block request the Duke School Educators Institute Rate. If you have any trouble, feel free to contact us.