George Lucas Educational Foundation

First Grade PBL's

First Grade PBL's

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
More Related Discussions
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

I am a first grade teacher in Charlotte NC and I am looking for suggestions of PBL’s that correlate with the common core standards. I am looking to do one or more where I could showcase the students work at our curriculum nights. I did one last year that went along with persuasive writing. The students chose a career and researched the job requirements, skills, pay and community outreach. Then for our writing curriculum night the dressed up in their careers and gave presentations to the parents.
I would like to do something like this for our Science/Social Studies nights and Math. Thank you for your help.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

Comments (6) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

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 Mary-
I'd start with the specific learning goals and then let the pal grow from there. That way the project doesn't overshadow the learning. I try to use these questions:

You can find some great examples here:

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Mary!

Are you familiar with Reggio Emilia? That approach to education is almost using every day as PBL. You can also use backwards design to help you start with the learning objectives, and then work backwards, thinking about how kids could both document and demonstrate their learning along the pathway.

The more we can help design projects that are personally relevant and meaningful to the kids, the more they will get out of them. Perhaps we can offer more suggestions if we know what your objectives are?
In terms of alignment with the common core, based on what NC has here,, projects exploring family traditions, how communities change and evolve over time, how money and opportunities affect where people live, are all aligned with the core, and the more opportunities you give students to compare and contrast and think how things could be different if... all promote higher order thinking skills as well.
As a total side note, I recently had my DNA sequenced by 23 and Me. They have a great website that shows how traits are passed down in families and how much your own DNA may even be from Neanderthals, etc. This might be fun to combine science and social studies and help kids think about where they get their eye color from, etc. and how interrelated we all can be.

Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate

Hi Mary,
Critical thinking and communication are emphasized throughout the Common Core, so you might think about projects that will give students opportunities to apply and deepen those important competencies. Build critical thinking into your driving question by asking students to make evaluations based on criteria (i.e., good questions might start, "What's the best/most effective way we can solve [specific problem]?").
On the math side, think about using math for measurement, data gathering, analysis, modeling. For example: What's the best way to reduce waste in our school cafeteria?
Good luck, and please let us know about your students' PBL successes!

Autumn Crosby's picture
Autumn Crosby
Second Grade Teacher, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hello Mary,

I read your post and wanted to share my experience from last year transforming a Unit of Inquiry (IB school) that used the same standards you are referencing. It was a "journey" to say the least, but my experience has transformed my teaching in amazing ways.

Last year I read Understanding by Design and participated in a year-long grant project in my district around 21st Learning. We were tasked with making the shift from providing learning experiences that transferred in a real-life, meaningful way for our students.

It took me some time to understand that, although the final summative assessment that we were using was not awful, it also did not provide a real-life transfer for my students. In the end, the fantastic group of educators that I was grouped with help me make some amazing shifts to our Unit of Inquiry. For example, instead of researching common community jobs, we expanded on the classrooms jobs we already had and actually demonstrated how they impacted our classroom community (made connections to real world jobs throughout). One week I secretly told the librarians NOT to take our books down. The result--no one was able to check out books that week. Another week I had the lunch table washers "forget" their duty. In turn, the 2nd grade students wrote us letters letting us know how that impacted their lunch time. I even went as far as having the janitors "forget" to take out our trash for a few days. Each time these things happened we discussed, charted, problem-solved, made connections, and reflected in our journals. We also created a classroom economy (that is now a strong foundation in my classroom management program). If you did not contribute through your job then you did not get paid the following week. The culminating assessment after 6 weeks of various real-life scenarios involved students having to write a persuasive letter to me or our principle that either suggested a job we should add and the need/reasons for that job, or a job we should remove and the reason why. Students also created a page in a digital book verbally sharing what they learned though out the project. In the end I was able to determine if the children had mastery of about 10 different standards (don't have them in front of me, but they cover community leadership, financial literacy, jobs and roles, opinion/persuasive writing skills and a bunch of other LA standards in writing, speaking, and communicating.)

This type of PBL takes a great deal of planning, but the growth I saw in my students was amazing. The end result also showed me where I was "lacking" in my instruction. The beautiful part was the the learning was meaningful, hands-on, transferable, and measurable.

We are working on making the rest of our Units of Inquiry more project based with real-life, transferable lessons and experiences.

Autumn Crosby's picture
Autumn Crosby
Second Grade Teacher, Colorado Springs, Colorado

We also use our classroom mascots as "students teachers". They travel to parents jobs over 6 weeks and file a report back on their blog. Here is the link:

The student teacher bears must answer a set of questions while interning at a parents job site that covers our standards.

Robbie Garrett-Stuenkel's picture

Have you ever thought of posting and selling your PBL's on TPT? Our district has implemented PBL this year for the first 40 minutes of the day. Unfortunately we had little training.
I know many teachers that would pay for ideas! :)

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.