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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Project-Based Learning Professional Development Guide

An overview of the Edutopia professional development guide for teaching how to use project-based learning in the classroom.

Edutopia.org's Project-Based Learning professional development guide can be used for a two- to three-hour session, or expanded for a one- to two-day workshop, and is divided into two parts.

Part one is a guided process, designed to give participants a brief introduction to project-based learning (PBL), and answers the questions "Why is PBL important?", "What is PBL about?", and "How does PBL work?"

Part two assigns readings and activities for experiential PBL. Ideally, the tasks will be accomplished using group collaboration and with the use of technology. These activities are outlined in the Workshop Activities section. You will also find links to examples, from the Edutopia.org video library, of PBL in action at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Students Follow the Butterflies' Migration: Teacher Frances Koontz shows students a symbolic butterfly sent from children in Mexico.

The Resources for PBL page includes a PowerPoint presentation (including presenter notes), which can be shown directly from the website or downloaded for use as a stand-alone slide show, and sample session schedules. You will also find recommended websites, books, and additional videos to learn more about PBL in this section.

This guide was designed to address many of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), established by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

To find the specific standards for your state, visit this page at Education World that lists standards by academic subject and by state.


Continue to the next section of the guide, Why Is PBL Important?

Acknowledgments: This module was written by Sara Armstrong and Marian Shaffner. The George Lucas Educational Foundation extends its thanks to the following people who reviewed it for content and usability: Peggy Benton, assistant professor, PT3 grant director and adviser, Department of Instructional Technologies, San Francisco State University, San Francisco; DiAnn Ellis, professor, Department of Education, SFSU; David Pownell, assistant professor, Department of Education, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas; Tina Barrios, supervisor of instructional technology, Manatee County Schools, Bradenton, Florida; Donna Read, associate professor of education, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida; and Bruce "Chip" Daley, coordinator of research, development and special projects, Clark County School District, Las Vegas.

Comments (15)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Shane Krukowski's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Sara,

Hope all is well!

I came across this during a search for something else and felt that there some mention of how to manage PBL here.

Working with 50 innovative PBL schools across the country for the past several years, I often see the theory accepted and then falter when it comes to managing the flow and assessment.

As former practitioners, we built Project Foundry (www.projectfoundry.org) specifically for PBL schools. The tool mitigates the initial challenges of PBL by streamlining the management and centralizing the assessment loops in a way that's intuitive to the process.

For what it's worth, thought I'd mention it.

Take care,

Shane Krukowski
Managing Director
Project-Based Learning Systems
Milwaukee, WI

Cathy Shuman's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I was so glad to find this blog. I have been curious about project-based learning since one of my fellow classmates in our master's program stated that her school will be utilizing PBL. I have found a wealth of information through blogging and will check out Shane's website. Great!

Chris Sawinski's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Does anyone have a good resource for Expeditionary Learning units I can use as examples?
I have applied to teach at an ELS and although I have found resources for familiarizing myself with the general philosophy and practices, it would be very helpful to have some models for the actual expeditions themselves. Much thanks!

Margaret Brown's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Does anyone know a good speaker to come and talk with faculty about Project Based Learning? Let me know ... thanks!

Theresa 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Check out Tony Wagner. He is he author of the Global Achievement Gap, I believe and that book is about Project Based Learning.
Good Luck!

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