Voice and Choice in PBL (Part 2)

Author: Audrey Lash, Second Grade Teacher.

In my last post, I discussed our inventions project. Driving question, “How can we identify a real world problem and design an innovative solution?” Students have been brainstorming their ideas and solutions. They’re about to take the leap of deciding upon which genre they choose to inform their audience. Will they choose narrative, poetry, nonfiction, or persuasive? Below is the writer’s menu we created as we reviewed each genre.


As teachers, we were very nervous of this release of independence. How would we teach mini lessons in writing if students were all doing different genres? How do we scaffold this learning and create individualized learning for all students in their chosen genre? Students in 2nd grade still need modeling and guidance. We had two solutions.

  1. We could have teacher focus groups and teacher experts. Students would choose their genre and then they could pair up and move to the classroom of a teacher teaching that genre. For instance, one teacher may be teaching poetry mini lessons and writers’ conferences that whole week. Students writing poetry could move into their room for support and guidance. While we loved this idea as teachers, we were nervous about the management of it all.
  2. We could create “flipped classroom” like focus groups. I’ve personally chosen this idea because I’m able to be “everywhere” at once. I’ve created four unique mini-lessons for each writing genre. During writing tomorrow, students will pair off with a group of students that chose the genre that they did. They’ll get an iPad and be able to watch a 10-15 minute mini-lesson on their particular genre. On each video, I model the steps and a checklist for what they’ll need to inform their audience. 

Both solutions are a win-win for students and teachers. Students get to have a voice and a choice in how they design their writing and information. Students get individualized guidance from the teacher in how to create such a masterpiece. As the teacher, I’ll be able to monitor and help those that need that extra help beyond a video. Perhaps pulling a small group back of intensive writers or helping to point out soon-to-be exemplars for other groups. I hope to have student exemplars help run the following sessions as writing experts of that genre. They might share in their writing and then help the group discuss some key points of the genre.

Here’s to actually being in four or more places at once with technology! I can’t wait to see my students take off with their genres. Don’t laugh at my voice and handwriting… Ha!


Narratives: http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/invention-narratives/21882713/?s=zY5B09&ref=link

Poetry: http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/invention-poem/21881044/?s=9bn6ZG&ref=link

Persuasive Letters: http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/invention-persuasive-letter/21881567/?s=OEM4ZK&ref=link

Nonfiction: http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/invention-nonfiction/21883846/?s=zvAr0o&ref=link


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