Menu Projects: Build Student Choice and Differentiation in your Classroom

Ever heard of a menu project? It’s just like it sounds, a menu of different products a student can create to demonstrate their mastery of a topic. They’re an amazing tool for bringing student choice, differentiation and project based learning to your classroom.

Once you start using menus you’ll find all sorts of applications for them. They can be used at the end of units to assess understanding. Menus can also be used in the middle of a unit to assess readiness for the next lesson. Some even use them at the start of a unit for knowledge acquisition. Here’s how they work.

Example Menu Project for Algebra

The teacher comes up with a list of different ways students can demonstrate mastery on the unit they’re studying. It could be a poster, brochure, video, power point, song, game, tech game (think kahoot) etc. Then the teacher organizes those tasks onto a menu. Your menu can have appetizers, main courses and desserts, but it doesn’t have to. It could also simply contain main courses.

Next the teacher thinks about the difficulty level of each task, and assigns a point value to that task. Maybe a video explaining the symbolism in a novel is worth more points than a kahoot on the vocabulary words in that same novel. Generally speaking, more complex tasks are worth more points, and simpler tasks are worth less.

When students read through the menu, they can select the sorts of activities that appeal to them. The only caveat is, they must complete tasks that reach a certain point total. For example, in the image above, students needed to perform tasks that totaled 100 points. I also required them to select at least one appetizer, one main course and a dessert. Some students will select higher point value tasks so that they don’t have to complete as many tasks. Others will select the tasks that most appeal to them. Either way it’s a win if the menu is designed properly and points are assigned according to complexity.

Menu projects work well individually or as group work. I have used them as review before exams (group work), and in lieu of unit tests (individual work). I also know some teachers who have used them to introduce new content (the tasks included researching topics for the upcoming unit). I usually allow a few periods in school to begin the projects, then ask students to finish them at home.

However they are used, they bring great differentiation and choice for students. Give them a try, I think you’ll love them, and your students will too!

You can find my Menu Projects on the Math Lab Classroom TPT store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Math-Lab-Classroom

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