George Lucas Educational Foundation


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I had my first experience this year with PBL and it was very successful. The kids loved it and so did I! My 7th grade honors English classes designed and created original board games based on the myth of their choice. The worked alone or in pairs. The results were phenomenal!
When I look for additional ideas online, I usually find lots to do with science and history, but very few suggestions for middle school language arts. Does anyone have any ideas that they have tried or plan to try?

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi Linda-
I can share a couple of things. You'll find all kinds of ideas here: Learning By Real Problems. Activity Examples ( as well as here:

I also find that a lot of the best ideas come from questions like these:

Hope these help!

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

@LindaE20 - well done for taking that first step, and how exciting for you AND your students that the experiment was so successful! So, you're ready for more? YEAH!

Linda has shared some great input, so I would just add to the list a few things I like on PBL (though I teach a World Language, not ELA).

Firstly, definitely check out all the PBL resources here on Edutopia! This one is a good start:

Also, is the home base for PBL - they have example projects, as well as templates for project building, rubrics, group contracts, etc...

A bunch of ELA project ideas:

That might be a good start! Keep us posted on your progress - best wishes,


LindaE20's picture

Many thanks for your suggestions and for taking the time to help. I will keep you posted.

LindaE20's picture

Thank you for taking the time to offer your suggestions. I will start exploring right away.

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Design/Broadcast Media teacher

Ain't PBL grand? When it works, it really works! So glad you gave it a go and had such success.

My favorite PBL that my 8th graders spend a semester on is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). We spend the whole month of November (every class period and all their homework) writing our own novels; the months prior are spent brainstorming, plotting and planning our stories. Best news for us is that the entire project is supported by the Young Writers Program: they provide free curriculum (linked to CCSS), online support and free publication of the novels for the students who meet their goals.

You can check it all out on the NaNoWriMo website:
I've also made a website to help teachers with NaNo:
And more help planning NaNo here:

My students are then able to sell their novels on Amazon! Check out our list here:

Let me know if you're interested in more help with NaNoWriMo - it's great for middle schoolers!


Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Laura, I didn't realize that your students also published their novels. That's awesome! Talk about having an authentic audience...

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Design/Broadcast Media teacher

Isn't it great? Publishing is another perk from NaNoWriMo -- CreateSpace donates 5 free copies to every student who makes their word goal (CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, so their books go straight to Amazon for sale). So in addition to the powerful project of writing a novel, my students also have the opportunity to go through an online publishing process. It's a genuine self-publishing site, so the kids really have to struggle through a process that is intended for adults. They learn SO MUCH.

Carla F's picture

Check out PBL programs focused on entrepreneurship, financial responsibility, leadership and teamwork. Lot's of opportunities to develop presentations, persuasive arguments and negotiations, marketing materials, etc.

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