TMC7 King & King

Inquiry Project Management Tools for Tired Teachers 

by Alanna King and Tim King

This paper focusses on how teacher-librarians leading constructivist learning projects can facilitate the process through the use of project management digital tools. These tools support successful learning through managing collaborative student workflow thus developing greater teacher and student achievement. The authors propose project management is a needed literacy for student success and teacher-librarians are in a prime position to lead the way. The paper is intended to work in tandem with the accompanying video to illustrate background, theory, and example of use by the authors. 

Alanna King is an instructional designer and agent of change with over 20 years of teaching, writing and design experience.  She is passionate about redefining literacy; access and equity to robust digital resources; and school libraries.  She sits on the Ontario Library Association's public library book selection committee called Evergreen.  She currently works on secondment for TVO as an Instructional Liaison.

Tim King currently works on secondment for the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) as Education Coordinator, Eastern Canada. He is a multi-award-winning technology teacher & pioneering cyber educator. He is also a published writer & photographer as well as a former millwright & ICT technician.

Read the Paper

View Alanna and Tim's video: Inquiry Project Management Tools for Tired Teachers 

This  slidedeck as it has links embedded in it for examples as well as additional resources. 


  1. Alanna and Tim,
    This is hurting my brain in a good way.
    I needed to watch the video and read the paper. Thank you for providing both.
    On your slide marked Kanban principle 1, I realized that one of my primary division teachers uses a version of this as part of her language program, to keep track of student writing projects. Mind blown.
    I agree with your statement at the 45 minute mark where you state that project management is a core skill and literacy skill we need.
    The challenge - how do we do this without either taking our Graduate Certificate in project management or adopting Trello? Are there beginner steps (other than listening to / reading your artifacts here)?
    Lots to ponder,
    Diana M

  2. Oh no problem! You can begin by having this discussion: What do we need to do (column 1), How will we do it (column 2) and Who is going to do it? Imagine how easy it would be to do collaborative work like this in a face-to-face classroom. What we're proposing is in taking those conversations to a virtual learning environment, you've added so much more functionality to the project and the documentation of the learning.

  3. Oh my, my, my, Tim & Alanna! I am so excited. HINT to everyone - watch the video. Tim and Alanna's conversation and visual examples are very helpful.

    A few connections that fired my synapses:

    Transparency in this style of project management fosters collaboration, reveals challenges, and enables the team to find solutions. As TLs, we value collaborative learning and understand that the knowledge of the collective is much larger than the knowledge of all of the group members.

    Accountability in a supportive environment. Tim, you gave several examples of where other students were able to see and to help students who were, for whatever reason, finding it challenging to meet their goals. You also gave examples of how you were able to use Trello tools to understand a student's particular situation, and support them appropriately. This kind of information is so hard to get at for educators. And students who are accountable to each other take that accountability more to heart.

    Formative assessment: Assessment FOR learning. It is challenging as a teacher to provide the kind of feedback along the way to help students progress positively towards that final product and associated summative assessments. Tracking formative assessment with marks is tempting but inappropriate. It's not the point. But wow, those line diagrams of group progress in the different facets of project development say it all, and as you said, the group can immediately understand where they are and make decisions for moving forward, which is the entire point of formative assessment.

    Authentic audience. The students can see their work and everyone else's work, in a supportive and purposeful environment. BTW, your example of having English students creating a "real" blog, published to the world, struck a major chord with me. I worked with a secondary TL in a school I supported as the library consultant in the WRDSB on a very similar project at least 12 years ago. She collaborated with Gr 10 English teacher. They had students blog (accounts on a shared blog) about books rather than write book reports. Immediate superior effort and content, for all of the reasons you mentioned. We should talk.

    BTW, so interested in your role at ICTC. I attended a forum co-hosted by ICTC and MediaSmarts in 2014, representing the Ontario Library Association. So many connections to be made here with Matthew Johnson from MediaSmarts presenting at TMC, our follow-up activity looking at empowering digital media literacy learning in schools, and your (both of you) involvement. My brain is bursting with the possibilities.

  4. This idea deserves a week of study; not just a few min. A high school senior as a project manager? My son tells me that kid is headed for $150K salary to start. How about combining this tool idea with Design Thinking popularized by IDEO? More reasons to ban bird units and do Big Thinks. Kings: you are on to something. I hope you can talk fast!

  5. Fascinating research Alanna and Tim! We have used Trello, and Google Sheets in the past for PBM, but I would have never thought of teaching these kind of project management skills to our students. I am wondering how inclusive this would be for students who struggle with productivity ie students who need inclusive support. Would there be comparison? Just a thought. Love the amount of time and energy you have contributed to this research!

    1. I think this kind of digital environment is exactly what inclusivity looks like! We should explore together if our AODA requirements can be integrated. Happy to learn with you anytime Pippa


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