George Lucas Educational Foundation

Resources for Getting Started With Project-Based Learning

Explore Edutopia's curated compilation of online resources for understanding and beginning to implement project-based learning.
Andrew Miller
Instructional Coach at Shanghai American School
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Just getting started with project-based learning (PBL)? Our curated list of resources for educators new to PBL should help you. Before you get started, be sure to check out Edutopia's PBL page, including information about the research behind effective PBL practices. You can also connect with Edutopia's community to learn and share PBL tips.

PBL Defined and Clarified

  • What the Heck is PBL? by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (2015)

    In project-based learning, students show what they learn as they journey through the unit, interact with its lessons, collaborate with each other, and assess themselves and each other.

  • Five Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning (2014)

    Well-designed project-based learning (PBL) has been shown to result in deeper learning and engaged, self-directed learners. Learn more about the five core elements of successful PBL in this video.

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Stories and Examples

  • My PBL Failure: 4 Tips for Planning Successful PBL, by Katie Spear (2015)

    Here are four lessons learned from a failed PBL unit: align with the school calendar, allow planning time, carefully create the topic and guiding question, and collaborate with peers.

  • PBL: Jumping in Headfirst, by Matt Weyers (2014)

    Join two middle school teachers in their first post of a year-long series about implementing a PBL pilot program in their fifth grade classroom.

  • Learning by Doing: A Teacher Transitions Into PBL, by Shawn Canney (2015)

    For a successful PBL unit, set clear goals, over plan, make students accountable, give concrete deadlines, share rubrics in advance, and reflect on your methods.

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Other Tips From Teachers and Experts

  • Troubleshooting PBL, by Joshua Block (2015)

    The perfect PBL experience is ever-changing, so be ready to ask questions, reflect, and revamp your approach while showing complete faith in your students' abilities.

  • 6 Strategies for Differentiated Instruction in Project-Based Learning, by Andrew Miller (Updated 2016)

    Explore six simple, effective approaches to differentiated instruction in project-based learning.

  • Design Thinking and PBL, by Beth Holland (2016)

    Design thinking and PBL can bridge what we know and how we innovate. Try combining these two practices as an instructional framework for teaching 21st-century skills.

  • 5 PBL Best Practices for Redefining the Teacher's Role, by Joshua Block (2015)

    PBL changes a teacher's traditional role through framing the learning, helping students develop ideas, consulting as they revise, and encouraging feedback, reflection, and authentic presentations.

  • 6 Strategies to Truly Personalize PBL, by Andrew Miller (2015)

    PBL best embodies personalized learning when you know the whole child, align projects with standards, build a supportive infrastructure, assess often, and get out of the way.

  • Social Justice Projects in the Classroom, by Michael Hernandez (2015)

    Teacher Michael Hernandez shares his tips and ideas for creating projects focused on social justice. He gives recommendations for not only purposes but also products that make a difference.

  • Making Room for Children's Ideas Through PBL, by Jack Dieckmann (2016)

    An educator recognizes the value of PBL while watching his young son play creatively with engineering design, scaling, iterating, imagining, selecting materials, and mapping steps toward a goal.

  • Watch and Learn: Observing the PBL Classroom, by Stacey Goodman (2015)

    One classroom observation is just not enough to get the full picture of a project-based learning classroom. Read more on what works best when observing PBL in action.

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Bookmark this page to reference it for updates. Do you know of other useful resources, or are there other types of resources you'd like to see included on this page? Please share your feedback in the comments.

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Linda Keane AIA's picture
Linda Keane AIA
NEXT.cc Director, Prof Arch/EnvDes, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Ray,
Thanks for compiling these. You might want to include NEXT.cc (http://www.NEXT.cc), a 2012 National Environmental Education Green STEM Innovator and United States Green Building Council Excellence in Green Building Education Awardee. Created by a collaborative team of college art, design and education students, it introduces a thinking and making scaffold of tools, languages, discovery and design opportunities that are linked to NAEEA and NGSS standards. Teachers are using it to develop interest in projects, connections to communities and virtual field trips, museum interactives and contemporary art, science and design practices.

David Andrade's picture
David Andrade
Educator, EdTech Specialist, Education Administrator

These are some great resources for PBL, my personal favorite way of teaching and learning. I really like the dispelling myths and the Common Craft video.

Here are some more:
Project Based Learning Resources for Educators:
http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/p/project-based-learning.html

More on WPI and their learning model:
"Lehr und Kunst" or "Theory and Practice." - what we strive for in education
http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/2012/01/lehr-und-kunst-or-t...

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

Can I add one more? The Critical Skills Classroom model has some great resources for teachers trying to get started with PBL, particularly if they're interested in teaching and assessing 21st Century Skills at the same time. http://antiochne.edu/acsr/criticalskills

Adam Brock w/ Bright OS's picture
Adam Brock w/ Bright OS
Technology and Integrated Arts Instructor and Developmental Mentor with Bright OS

Is anyone else out there helping their students develop unique project ideas - based on what they want to experience, how they want to grow and what they want to contribute to the world? I have been so blessed to be doing that for 5-6 years now! I'm creating a course with resources and support for PBL called Easy and Effective Technology Integration with Bright OS. I'd love feedback on it so I released a free beta version of the course. Please let me know if your interested!

bessyp's picture

I work with a cohort of high school students with Autism and Learning disabilities. My school is looking to introduce PBL and I am very nervous about the whole thing. I teach HSI . Can anyone direct me to readings and/or resources that would show me how to implement this style with these special children.
Kindly

Janice Morrison's picture

SOLE Self-Organized Learning Environment is the way for all students to begin PBL regardless of the content or ensuing PBL process!! Please be sure to check out the videos and protocols on www.solecle to understand the power of this inquiry opportunity. Jeffrey D. McClellan is the Executuve Director and the former founding Head of School of Edutopia awarded MC2STEM High School.
SOLE sits at TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, my org.
Please do not miss this!!
Jan Morrison
President & CEO TIES 443-421-1076 janmorrison@tiesteach.org

Gillian Judson's picture
Gillian Judson
Professor of Education, Co-Director, Imaginative Education Research Group

Really a useful article. Thanks!

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