Giving Students Voice and Choice During Project Based Learning

According to the Buck Institute for Education, providing students with Voice and Choice is an essential element in implementing true project based learning. During a PBL unit, teachers want their students to feel engaged and empowered throughout the whole project. It's also important for teachers to not only give students opportunities for choice, but still have control of the academic content and learning experience. In this post, I'll give you helpful ideas in Giving Students Voice and Choice During Project Based Learning.

Giving Students Voice and Choice During Project Based Learning - Graphic of light bulb puzzle

If you are new to project based learning, I would suggest limiting the number of choices during the different phases of the project. Your students will need continuous direction during the project and this will eliminate frustration for you and your students. For example, you may want students to have the same product idea but they can design their presentations in different ways. I've assigned students the product of creating an informational commercial. They were able to present their commercial with an infographic (poster), a video commercial, or use an animated app or website. For more Tips in in Preparing Students for Project Based Learning, click HERE.

I'm sharing a collection of digital choice boards that you can edit to fit your project based learning unit. I've included blank templates and you can save on paper.  These templates can be saved in Google Classroom or Google Drive so you can keep track of your students' choices and progress.

Skills and standards with choice board templates

1. Determining skills needed to be taught

After establishing your learning objectives, you can give your students choices of how they want to learn these skills. This can include vocabulary, reading informational text, science, etc. You can determine what the students already know before you give them their choices. This is a great way to differentiate learning during the project and students can demonstrate their understanding in meaningful ways.

Research with choice board templates

2. Exploring student interests

Students take more ownership in their learning when they are given opportunities to connect with their areas of interest. Give them choices in ways they can conduct their research and share their findings. You can provide ideas or students may come up with their own. These would need to be approved by you. Reliable resources should be readily available for student use. To learn more, click HERE.

connect with experts with choice board templates

3. Connecting with experts

There are many different ways your students can connect with experts during a project based learning unit. If you're unable to bring someone to your classroom, allow technology to help you out. Try video conferencing, letters using email, virtual field trips, etc. Let the person know in advance that you would like to use him/her. Also, make sure students are prepared with good open-ended questions that will help them gain essential information about the project.

final product with choice board templates

4. Sharing the final products

Students have an opportunity to be creative in sharing their final product with a public audience. Plan an event or celebration for students to share their accomplishments.  These can be displays, commercials, videos, interactive games, etc. You'll be amazed with the ideas they have in sharing their project experience.

Reflections with choice board templates

5. Reflecting on the project

Reflecting on the project experience can help you and your students. It can give you insight on designing future projects, what worked during the project, and what didn't work. Students can discuss what they learned, the highlights of the project, their findings and suggestions in solving the problem or issue, and evidence of their understanding. Students can discuss in small groups, answer questions on Google Forms, complete rubrics, or reflect by daily journaling. Click HERE to learn more about Reflection and project based learning.

"Reflection helps students reveal things they might not otherwise think about: what they learned (and what they enjoyed about learning), their growth as learners, and what (and how) they want to learn in projects ahead." - ISTE Reinventing Project-Based Learning

More advanced or motived students may want to extend their learning during the project. There may be areas of the project that they may want to explore further. Project based learning provides an opportunity for deeper learning.

Give your students voice and choice during project based learning units with digital choice boards. Your elementary students can use these choice boards when learning important skills, conducting research, product presentation, and reflection. #projectbasedlearning #pbl #choiceboards

You can get your project based learning choice boards by clicking HERE or the image below. Your students will be able to apply what they have learned and have voice and choice with these choice boards. You may also be interested in this Go Digital With Interactive Notebooks post for project based learning.

Stay organized with your FREE Project Based Learning Teacher Planner.

product cover - project based learning digital choice boards

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