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The 7 Essential Tools You Need for Any Project Based Learning Activity

(Plus: The One I Used Every Day)

Project Toolkit

According to the Buck Institute, the design elements to a Gold Standard project based learning experience include:

Communication
Collaboration
Self-Management
Critical Thinking
Sustained Inquiry

Authenticity
Student Voice
Reflection
Critique
Public Product

The kit below contains seven tools that promote many of the Gold Standard design elements and can be used immediately on any project you have in your teaching backpack. Use them to create excellent projects that make a real impact on student learning.


Tool #1

Daily Log

PBL design elements addressed: Self-Management, Communication, Reflection

Goal Setting: The Daily Log is designed for students to track their progress and set goals for the upcoming work days. Allowing students to manage their progress and goals provides real world learning opportunities. As students continue on to college or the workplace, the ability to manage time and collaborate with peers or colleagues is vital.


Tool #2

Effort Scorecard

PBL design elements addressed: Self-management, Reflection

Tracking Performance: The Effort Scorecard is an opportunity for students to reflect on their work from the day. It is a quick reminder for them to remain on task and productive the whole period.


Tool #3

Active Reading and Essential Vocabulary Worksheet

PBL design elements addressed: Inquiry, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration

We can’t assume kids are going to pick up a reading and know what to do with it. The Active Reading and Essential Vocabulary Worksheet allows students to practice inquiry and ask questions. The art of active reading helps them as they advance in school and in the workplace.


Tool #4

Peer Feedback Form

PBL design elements addressed: Collaboration, Communication, Reflection, Critique/Revision, Authenticity

School is the best time to have students start receiving feedback from their peers. In the real world, you have to be comfortable with giving and receiving feedback to and from your peers or even your boss. The more students learn how to give appropriate and useful feedback with the Peer Feedback Form, they will be better prepared for situations in the future, from the workplace, to a landlord, or to a home improvement contractor.


Tool #5

Presentation Form

PBL design elements addressed: Public Product, Student Voice

Presenting work to a group can be intimidating, but if students are prepared they will find this task easier each time they do it. This Presentation Form helps students identify a presentation’s Purpose, Audience, Subject, and Tone. Students can then create an impactful presentation specific to their audience.


Tools #6 and #7

Student and Teacher Reflection Forms

PBL design elements addressed: Student Voice, Reflection, Revision

Being reflective as a teacher is essential to improve your practice. It is also important to have your students reflect on the work they create. This skill is needed to improve workplace and personal relationships. Reflection leads to self-improvement, a skill necessary for both teacher and student alike. These Teacher and Student Reflection Forms can be used at the end of each project in your classroom.


Which do I use every day?

I know that projects cannot run on a single tool. Learning through projects requires several tools working together. But the tool that I find has the biggest impact on my students is the Active Reading and Essential Vocabulary Worksheet.

I find students often do not know how to interact with a text or a speech. They can read the words but do not have any idea of the meaning. The Active Reading and Essential Vocabulary Worksheet helps them take a closer look. They struggle through the activity and have a lot of questions, but this is exactly what we want them to do – ask questions!

This is great practice in critical thinking. It can even be done with a partner to promote collaboration as well. If you pick any tool to use in class tomorrow, let this be the one!

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