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.
- What Should "Gold Standard" PBL Include? by Suzie Boss (2014)
Find out why a gold standard in PBL is necessary and how teachers, school leaders, and others can contribute to the conversation around its development.
- Avoid the Flop: 5 Questions to Guide Projects and Inquiry, by Joshua Block (2014)
To be an effective guide on the side, plan for every aspect of the project while remaining open to student ideas, needs, and understanding.
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.
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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