Differentiating Project Based Learning!

Nilmini Ratwatte-HenstridgeBlog, Differentiate Better, Lesson Plan Better


  • Project based learning can engage students with the research process. It also keeps student voice at the center of how we teach.
  • Project based learning can help engage students with their community and see how their actions can make a difference.

Why Project Based Learning?

As an educator, I believe we can engage students with learning with the research process, embedded curriculum, and keeping student voice at the center of how we teach.

I currently teach second grade. I love that my students engage in conversations, make jot notes, and draw detailed posters to make their voices heard on topics that we are learning about. Project based learning:

  • Teaches valuable life skills.
  • Teaches synthesizing factual knowledge gathered.
  • Gives teachers and students our voice back on a topic that has to be taught at school by making it connected to our lives.

Step-by-Step: Differentiated

Gather a variety of factual information, credit many sources, and consider the learning styles of all learners.

Differentiate the learning opportunities presented to students by approaching mastery of the skill set that students need to attain research skills on.

  • Give a choice of the final product in a unit.
  • Keep projects based on student choice and interest.
  • Differentiate according to learning styles: visual, auditory, and sensory learning opportunities for each lesson.

Shine through Project Based Learning

My advice is to plan ahead and implement next! Backwards planning is an effective strategy with project based learning.

Let the students pick their topics for research. Let the student choose their way to display their learning. Make it all about the facilitator role as you lead and learn alongside your class.

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Sometimes it was possible to connect our project based learning to integrated curriculum to engage student interest.

Here are some adventures we took on so far learning online this year.

  1. We worked with the Toronto Zoo. And we helped with a cause to promote the need for donations to help the local animals that are impacted by the pandemic this year.
  2. We worked to promote water conversation by making posters with the Region of Peel. They ran a campaign called “Imagine a Day without Water!” as we learned about how we can use less water and be more careful with this natural resource.
  3. The city of Brampton was working on a campaign to bring more trees into the city to create an environmentally friendly city. My students drew trees in four seasons as we learned about how important it is to not pollute the air.
  4. We all learned to wash our hands carefully. My students designed poster ideas and submitted them to be put on hand dryers that were partnering with SC Johnson Professionals in a contest called “Happy Hands.”
  5. We loved working with the local programs that helped the community such as food banks and raising awareness while getting donation boxes full to help the families in need. I think spoken words, skills on reporting, and promoting for a cause with little clips really helped engage my students.
  6. We planned and showcased our learning for school-wide initiatives. One example was our Summer Jump Rope for Heart Assembly to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. This kept us motivated to learn the skills required for physical education classes and health classes.

I always believed in guided project based teaching.

These graphics above show the progress you can make through the year as we learn together about the strengths we have as a class on doing teamwork and working on collaborative skills.

Next, teachers can scaffold out project based learning to ensure that student-driven interest can be the focus on school projects. Consider all the learning styles of students (visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and sensory) so that all have the opportunity to be successful with each project.

Finally, inspire student success with the inquiry-based projects that make student learning meaningful by giving options of projects that can lead to individual student success.

Yours in Education,



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About Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge teaches in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada with her family. As an Elementary School Teacher who is passionate about Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights in education she enjoys teaching the younger generation to be global-minded citizens.

Discovering the world by connecting with others is an opportunity that we have today in our society today and she loves meeting new people! She is always learning while traveling to understand the inter-connectedness of this beautiful earth we live in! Nilmini LOVES Cooking great meals, Watching movies, and the latest fashion trends! Family and friends are close to her heart as she looks forward to balancing social media and navigating professional learning communities in education to network globally this year!