How much choice should I give my students?
  • You can start with baby steps... "Choose A or B."
  • Then branch out... "Choose A, B, C, or D."
  • Branch out more... "Choose A, B, C, and/or D."
  • Then you're ready for giant steps... "I'll provide support for Choices A or B, but you can choose whatever you want!"

All Projects should have an Audience
Defining the audience as a younger group forces kids to wrap their heads around a concept and put it in simpler terms. Simplifying an explanation of a complex concept requires critical thinking.
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

Be sure to build in time for kids to share with one another or, better yet, share with kids beyond your classroom walls. Consider a video chat with the kids with whom you shared.

Independent vs. Group
Groupwork allows for collaboration, an important 21st-Century Skill. We used to strive towards one-on-one computing, but times are changing. In order to prepare our students to be successful at the next level, they need to learn to work together. Groupwork does not mean that all kids do the same amount of work. The stronger kids should give their most, just as the struggling students should give their most. Students’ “mosts” will vary. Don’t get hung up on that.

If one of the choices you give students is something within your comfort area, consider making some screencasts to help them. Sometimes kids just need to be shown how to get started, then they can work independently.
Support Website - 6th Grade Science
Support Website - HS AP Biology
Support Website - Project Modules Website
Support Website - Video Broadcast Tech
Lessons Database (Content Libraries in Dublin Dashboard)

How do I put Scores for Different Projects in my Gradebook?
That’s the hard part, isn’t it? The solution is to provide kids with a rubric that focuses on 21st century skills as applied to the concept. Don't give a grade based on the tool, but on the student's communication of a concept.

Part of the rubric should include the individual's contribution to the group. I had my students fill out a reflection sheet (using Google Docs) daily so that they could be honest about their own contributions, and be candid about the contribution of their classmates.
Rubric Example
Project Description - HS AP Biology
Project Rubric - HS AP Biology

Menu Scoring
For more sophisticated choices for students, particularly High School students, consider Menu Scoring. Students get into teams and select a variety of components that "add up" to a designated target total. It makes sense that students select items that fit well together... For example, a commercial and flyer that have the same look and feel.

(70) 30-second Commercial
(30) Trifold Brochure
(40) Multi Media Presentation (keynote, powerpoint)
(30) Billboard Design
(50) Info Graphic
(20) Write a Jingle
(40) Make a Radio Commercial
(10) Make a Flyer
(30) Flyer Campaign
(30) Data Analysis with Graphs and Charts
(30) Give a Survey and Preset the Results
(30) Create a Database of Information/References
(60) Write and Illustrate a Children’s Story
(30) Electronic Bibliography with Comments
(30) Website Presentation
(20) Create an Educational Activity
(??) Other Item Approved by Teacher