“Are we meeting students where they are, or are we forcing them to conform to us?” – #RealPBL

Panel 1

About the Book

Real Questions From Educators.
Real Answers From PBL Experts.

Countless educators from across the globe would love to leverage project based learning to create learner-centered opportunities for their students.

Nonetheless, project based learning has yet to go mainstream. If so many educators believe in project based learning, and if project based learning can benefit so many students, why isn’t this approach the norm?

Because educators have questions.

Since the release of their first book, Hacking Project Based Learning, Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy, PBL experts, have connected with thousands of PBL practitioners. This book is Cooper and Murphy’s response to the most common questions educators ask about PBL and inquiry, including:

  • Why project based learning?
  • How do I structure a PBL experience?
  • How do I get grades?
  • How do I conference with students?
  • How do I include direct instruction?
  • How do I build a PBL culture?
  • How do I manage the chaos?
  • How does inquiry relate to PBL?
  • How do I get started with PBL?

Each question (and its answer) represents a chapter in the book. All of the answers strung together detail project based learning in its entirety, pieced together through the chapters.

Foreword by Thomas C. Murray,
Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools

Answers are based on Cooper and Murphy’s often hard-earned experiences and approachable solutions, which they have practiced and recommended to educators with whom they work. Project based learning implementation exists along a continuum, and as such, it comes with multiple entry points. The goal, always, is to offer practitioners what they need to feel successful in their work regardless of where they begin.

While this book answers questions and dives into the thick of project based learning, an ongoing theme is the idea that project based learning isn’t presented in isolation or as the silver bullet for meeting students’ needs. In this sense, this book reads more like a progressive educator toolkit that can serve as a resource for those who want or need to make their practices more relevant, while adding value for those already moving forward.

The most powerful books aren’t just the books that shift our thinking, but those that shift our thinking and our actions. Project Based Learning is one of these books.


Panel 3

What Educators Are Saying

If you’ve considered trying out project based learning with students or are ready to strengthen this practice, this book is for you!

Monica Burns, Ed.D.
Author of Tasks Before Apps, Founder of ClassTechTips.com

Project Based Learning: Real Questions. Real Answers. How to Unpack PBL and Inquiry is an inspiring book.

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D.
Author, Consultant, Finding Common Ground Blog for Education Week

Ross and Erin take the very real questions about the what, why, and how of project based learning and give actionable answers. They have thought about it all, done it all, and are sharing their strategies with you.

Gravity Goldberg, Ed.D.
Director and Literacy Consultant, Author of Teach Like Yourself and Mindsets and Moves

Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy have created a project based learning manifesto. 

A.J. Juliani
Coauthor of Empower and LAUNCH

This book is a must-read for educators who aspire to create more personalized and inquiry-based experiences for all students.

Katie Martin, Ph.D.
Chief Impact Officer at Altitude Learning, Author of Learner-Centered Innovation

In this phenomenal PBL resource, Cooper and Murphy unpack the concrete logistics of what it takes to facilitate deeper learning, greater student agency, and more real-world authentic work in your school.

Scott McLeod, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of Colorado Denver, Founding Director of CASTLE

The book contains so much valuable thinking and good advice about effective teaching and learning practices, it is worth reading even if you have no interest in or no intent to implement PBL.

Ken O’Connor
Author of How to Grade for Learning and A Repair Kit for Grading

Not only does this book address the why of student-centered learning experiences, but more importantly, the how.

Starr Sackstein
Author of Assessing with Respect and Hacking Assessment

I’ll be referring to this book, over and over again.

Shelly Sanchez
Digital Innovator, STEM Teacher, Author of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies

If you are an educator (or educational leader) who centers students, inquiry, and self-directed learning, then this is the book for you.

Tony Sinanis, Ed.D.
NYS Elementary Principal of the Year, Coauthor of Hacking Leadership

This book makes project based learning practical and accessible for any classroom teacher.

John Spencer, Ed.D.
Coauthor of Empower and LAUNCH

This book is brimming with the kind of inspiration that can only emerge from a deep and consistent commitment to learning.

Angela Stockman
Author of Creating Inclusive Writing Environments in the K-12 Classroom and Hacking the Writing Workshop

Panel 4

About the Authors

Ross Cooper

Ross Cooper is currently an administrator in the Chappaqua Central School District. Previously, he was an Elementary School Principal, K-12 curriculum supervisor, Elementary Assistant Principal, and fourth grade teacher. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator. As a nationally recognized leader in project based learning, he has worked with thousands of educators across the country to implement PBL. In 2021 he coauthored Project Based Learning: Real Questions. Real Answers. How to Unpack PBL and Inquiry, and in 2016 he coauthored Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom. While his day job is his first professional priority, he finds time to conduct workshops and speak on project based learning, inquiry-based learning, student-centered learning, instructional leadership, his professional experiences, and more. When he is not working, he enjoys eating steak and pizza and provoking his four beautiful nephews and niece.

Contact: RossCoops31.com / RossCoops31@gmail.com / @RossCoops31

Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy currently has the pleasure of serving as the Supervisor of Teaching & Learning for the Humanities subjects in the East Penn School District. She spent four years as a Middle School Assistant Principal and has classroom experiences ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. She is a proud graduate of Penn State University’s Professional Development School, where she was trained in inquiry-based instructional approaches. Erin is coauthor of Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom (2016), and she consults internationally with leaders and learners regarding literacy, learning, and leadership. Erin, her husband, and her two daughters reside in Pennsylvania, and the family enjoys spending time gardening, watching football, and playing board games.

Contact: psumurphette.com / psumurphette@gmail.com / @MurphysMusings5