The year-long project is a key piece of the Results Only Learning Environment TM. Obviously, project-based assessment is not new. Year-long projects in the ROLE, though, differ in the way they help fan students' intrinsic motivation, leading them to embrace learning rather than grades.
A year-long project is one in which students set a long-term goal and work backwards, creating checkpoints that the teacher can set. A smart year-long project will foster autonomy, collaboration and mastery of learning outcomes.
A model project
I have a variety of year-long activities, one being our Reading All Year project. We set a "Barnes Class" goal of 2,500 books read by June. This averages to roughly 25 per student. Of course, some will read 50 while a few will read 15. Along the way, we learn genre, book structure, literary elements and the fundamentals of writing.
As the year moves forward, students become engaged in the project and all of its parts, mainly because they are interested in reaching the final goal. They value the narrative feedback I provide and never ask, "What's this worth?"
I'll have more on year-long projects later. Meanwhile, consider how a project like this can change how you teach and how your students learn.