Project-Based Learning (PBL)

5-Minute Film Festival: Tips and Tools for PBL Planning

Teaching with project-based learning can be challenging. VideoAmy offers a playlist of videos to help plan and carry out great projects in any subject. 

March 15, 2013

Here at Edutopia, we talk a lot about project-based learning, or PBL. Whether you call it deeper learning, inquiry-, problem-, or challenge-based learning, all are variations on the same idea -- that young people can learn more deeply, and retain the information better, when they can work collaboratively in teams to explore and solve real-world problems. Many would say that PBL can be a more effective way to teach - but anyone who has tried it agrees that doing it well is not easy.

It's fairly simple to find video examples of what PBL looks like in the classroom at all levels -- just check Edutopia's video library! -- but where can you find specific tips on how to plan and carry out great PBL? What are the building blocks of rigorous and relevant projects? How can you address some of the challenges you'll meet? While it's unlikely that you will become a PBL pro just by watching videos, this playlist will provide some gateways to get you thinking about the nuts and bolts -- and lead you to some organizations with many more tools and resources for tackling PBL.

Video Playlist: A Project-Based Learning Toolkit

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. Project-Based Learning: Explained. (03:50)

    First, let's get the basics out of the way. This video is a great tool for when you just need to describe PBL in four minutes. Created by the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) -- a one-stop resource for PBL tools.

  2. Tips For Building Projects (06:17)

    The audio is a little low on this teacher-produced screen-capture video, but it does a great job outlining the basics things you should be thinking about in your initial project planning stages.

  3. BIE's Project Planner Tutorial (02:02)

    BIE offers a powerul and simple online tool, the Project Planner, for organizing your ideas while putting together a project. You must sign up for a free account, but you can save and print your work to your profile.

  4. Project Learning Chapter 2: Plan (03:13)

    "Begin with the end in mind" is more than just one of the seven habits of highly effective people -- it's also critical to the PBL process. This video is from a useful series of PBL how-to videos by the Oracle Foundation.

  5. Challenge-Based Learning (03:48)

    This concise and quirky video explains the process of distilling an essential question, and illustrates how that question then becomes the driver for challenge-based learning.

  6. Think Forward: Assessment (07:26)

    Assessment for project-based learning requires a more comprehensive approach. The poor audio quality is worth it, to hear real teachers describe exactly how they assess for learning throughout a project. From Manor New Tech High School's Think Forward PBL Institute.

  7. Project-Based Learning in Hand, Part 1 (10:55)

    Teacher Tony Vincent's podcast series explores different topics around mobile learning -- in this episode, he looks at how iPod Touches and iPads can be used in project-based learning. See Part Two here.

  8. "Gilgamesh - Ancient Espionage" Entry Event (07:31)

    When you're ready to go, kicking your project off with an engaging activity can be a great way to get buy-in from the students. Here's a hilarious example of an entry event from Manor New Tech High School, involving a guest visit from a costumed classics professor. Read this blog by Suzie Boss for more great ideas.

  9. Scheduling for Project-Based Learning (05:35)

    Three high school teachers talk about how they re-structured their day to accommodate integrated PBL. Not everyone has the flexibility shown here, but it's fascinating to see how these teachers broke it down.

  10. Crafting POL's (08:54)

    Most projects have a final product or culminating presentation at the end for the students to show off what they've learned. Here, Rob Riordan gives a PD workshop at High Tech High to review videos of student presentations of learning (POLs). Check out this blog by Suzie Boss for more ideas.

  11. How PBLU Works (01:15)

    Hungry for more lessons on PBL? PBLU is an incredible resource offered by BIE. See how you can access two-week training courses and Common-Core-aligned projects that you can modify and customize.

More Tools for Project-Based Learning Implementation

I hope this playlist helped de-mystify some of the processes around good PBL planning. There are many more resources to be found, on Edutopia and around the Web -- from PBL trainers and consultants, to organizations that provide professional development, to edtech companies who offer tools to assist teachers who want to try PBL. Here are just a few of my favorites.

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