Part 5… Student Voice: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the fifth in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Voice and Choice. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. I have a number of distance interactive workshops that can be made to fit your schedule. Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021.

Part 5… Student Voice and Choice: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources by Michael Gorman at 21centuryedtech

One of the most powerful attributes of Project Based Learning is that it is both student centered and driven. The student autonomy may come in varying degrees depending on student age, student experience with PBL, and teacher experience and comfort in both facilitating and activating a PBL learning experience. PBL at its most powerful stage is a deep learning experience allowing students to self-regulate and gain insight into their own learning process. PBL employs student ownership, voice and choice, personalized and relevant experiences, and a culture of learning that can drive
engagement, rigor, and student success.

1. Ownership (Self-Regulated)
2. Personalized (Student Voice)
3. Student Driven Culture

Ownership (Self Regulated) – A goal of PBL is for the student to gain ownership of the learning and the process associated with learning. In a true PBL environment the teachers is a partner that not just facilitates, but activates this process. The goal is
learning that becomes self-regulated by the student. The amount of ownership will depend on student maturity, comfort, and past experience with PBL. The teacher must also have a comfort level built on experience in the PBL classroom. The steps from
teacher controlled to student autonomy may come in increments,, and teachers should feel free to begin at the bottom of the stairs when they first implement. As students begin to own the learning a new classroom synergy becomes evident.
Personalized (Student Voice) – A student centered learning environment allows student to choose how to learn, within given parameters, that can support essential content and skills. This personalized ownership begins with giving students voice and choice in certain areas, eventually growing to a large part of the process as comfort levels and experience rises. When students have a voice and choice there is an exciting empowerment which leads to wonderful engagement. This voice and choice may be a say in classroom operations, creation of contracts, choosing tools to demonstrate learning, and even deciding on an interest within the boundaries of the standards. The teacher in a PBL classroom provides differentiation using grouping, roles, one on one conversations during group work time, and tasks in the scaffold. At the highest levels of PBL students become familiar with their strength and strategies in learning. Having the ability to personalize the learning experience students can often see relevance of the why and what they are learning. They are able to take with them an important skill of lifelong learning which will serve them beyond their formal schooling.
Student Driven Culture – A student centered PBL classroom and related project portrays a unique and powerful culture that embraces and fosters learning. Students learn what it means to be a member of a Personal Learning Community. The classroom
is a place of opportunity, wonder, expression, excitement, and knowledge. Critique and revision by individuals and peers are a common place and performed in a kind, caring, and effective manner. Norms are established and protocols are honored. The idea of process and formative learning trumps content acquisition, although content is still rich and becomes more vibrant. Learning is student regulated. The students in a true PBL classroom genuinely display an understanding that they really do own their learning.

Resources for Authenticity, PBL, and Blended Learning  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop student voice and choice in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, or just a learning activity inside a PBL. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student voice and choice across a wide range of subjects. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Pedagogy Wheel: This wheels provides a lot of technology tools that students might be able to use to choose a way to publish their answers to the DQ while demonstrating their learning. Let students use this wheel to determine what tool they might use to present their learning. Remember to allows follow your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy).

Google Custom Search Engine. Why not have your students research and create their own search engine after vetting websites in a certain subject area? They will be learning searching skills and website evaluation techniques. Best of all, individual, groups, or the whole class own the search engine. It is easy to learn how!

Common Sense Education: Explore this awesome site that might allow you to put students in the center of their learning. Have students look at a list of apps and websites. They can determine what to use for presenting their learning in the EdTech Reviews Section. You will note these are all vetted by educators. When putting students online it is important that they all have some learning experience in Digital Citizenship. Be sure to check out the free curriculum in this area. Remember to allows follow your district AUP.

Genius Hour – This concept really allows students to look into their passions for a whole world of learning, or areas of interest in just one subject area. It is possible to still cover content standards while also bringing out the 21st Century Skill success qualities. Any project based on Genius Hour will also bring in those important Language Art Skills of research, writing, and presentation… with a connection to any subject. Best of all, think of all of those blended possibilities.

Edutopia Article: This article provides several ways that a teacher can provide for putting students in the center of their learning. What tools are in your blended learning portfolio that might facilitate ideas in this article? There may even be ways to leverage your student learning management system (LMS).

Reflection on Student Voice and Choice

Learning will always be most powerful when the student is in the center of the experience. Putting the student in the center provides a motivation and engagement that will serve well beyond the formal education years. Perhaps the most learning a child ever does is in those years before school. These are years when a child is in the center asking observing, questioning, and trying. There is no formal instruction, and perhaps that is for the best. PBL allows students to go back to that amazing time period of wonder and excitement while the teacher carefully crafts experiences and activates possibilities while keeping in mind that the student must be in the center.

Next Post: Reflection and Metacognition, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

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