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Free Tools to Implement Open-Ended Projects in Your Classroom

Free Tools to Implement Open-Ended Projects in Your Classroom


Open-ended projects offer creative ways for students to practice skills and show understanding of a topic while having choice and independence in the language arts classroom.

Are you tired of the same old routine in your classroom? Do you feel like there’s little room for creativity or exploration?

If so, you may want to consider implementing open-ended projects.

Open-ended projects offer many benefits, from promoting creativity to fostering a sense of ownership and engagement. Moreover, they can provide a refreshing change of pace for you and your students.

What are Open-Ended Projects?

Projects that are open-ended involve a specific task with clear criteria yet offer a high degree of freedom in how the task is approached and executed. As a result, they allow learners to explore, experiment, and create.

When students have an opportunity to collaborate on these types of assignments, they bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table. As a result, they develop critical problem-solving and communication skills.

Providing a list of project options limits the scope yet allows students to choose how they want to demonstrate their learning. Additionally, this approach allows them to showcase their understanding of a particular skill or topic in diverse ways.

Luckily, there are a variety of options to offer in the language arts classroom.

Free Tools to Implement Open-Ended Projects in Your Classroom
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

Options for Open-Ended Projects

If you and your students want to take a break from structured writing assignments, focusing on something open-ended might be just what you need. They can be used for end-of-unit projects, reading response activities, book clubs, early finisher options, independent research, and more.

Project options to show understanding could include:

  • News Article
  • Poster
  • Timeline
  • Poem
  • Song
  • Comic Strip
  • Skit
  • Short Story
  • Picture Book
  • Interview
  • Friendly Letter
  • Editorial
  • Advertisement
  • Card Game
  • Board Game

Free Project Toolkit for Intermediate and Middle School Language Arts
Grades 4-8

Benefits of Using Open-Ended Projects 

What’s one thing we know about students? 

They. Crave. Independence. 

Kids of all ages love to make their own choices. However, there must be a good balance between what they want to do and the skills they need to learn. 

With assignments that are open-ended, you can foster students’ desire for autonomy and help them improve their independent reading and independent writing skills all at the same time.

A few benefits of providing choice with open-ended projects include:

  1. Excites learners and prevents boredom
  2. Naturally differentiates for student needs
  3. Engages learners on a deeper level
  4. Promotes ownership of learning
  5. Eliminates test anxiety
  6. Encourages creativity

These projects also benefit teachers because they can be used as formative and summative assessments. What’s nice about providing your learners with options is that instead of grading the same assignments over and over, you get to see a variety of submissions. Of course, teachers get bored, too!

I know what you’re thinking. But, that’s a lot of work to create directions for all these options and figure out how to assess them. And I agree!

Lucky for you, I have a FREE RESOURCE to help.

FREE Project Toolkit

My FREE Project Toolkit for upper intermediate and middle school language arts is packed with tools for 15 open-ended projects to help alleviate some of the work for you. It includes:

  • A list of the project options
  • A general planning page to help students organize ideas for their projects
  • 15 direction sheets for students (one for each project type)
  • A scoring rubric that works for all of the project options
  • A teacher guide to help with implementation

You can access this FREE PROJECT TOOL KIT and other goodies in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY by joining my email list with the form below. I hope you enjoy implementing open-ended projects with your students as much as I do!

If you want additional ideas to help students summarize and reflect on their reading, read about authentic reading response activities.

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Jan's File Cabinet Intermediate and Middle School Language Arts

Hello there!

I’m Jan. I’m a pet mom, an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and a MASSIVE book hoarder. My philosophy of teaching is simple… start where students are and build them up with the right interventions at the right time. I enjoy making digital and printable resources for upper intermediate and middle school language arts.

Gain instant access to the Free Resource Library when you join my email list!