We hesitate to offer premade projects, but when designing our own, we know it can help to refer to preexisting projects, in the same way that students benefit from examples. We have selected grade levels and content areas that often present the most challenge for PBL implementation: primary grades, English class, math class, and high school social studies. Even if none of these grade levels or areas apply to your work, you can still benefit from exploring the ways in which these projects are laid out.
What does PBL look like in primary grades?
A first grade teacher wants to start the year talking about kindness, as he believes this will help to establish his classroom community and build positive relationships. In the past, he read some books about kindness and each student created a kindness poster, which he hung in the room. This year, he wants to do something on a grander scale to illustrate for his students what kindness can look like beyond the classroom. He decides to help his students host an event for a group of people in their community. The majority of this project is completed as a whole group.
What does PBL look like in an English class?
A high school English teacher wants to integrate the independent choice summer reading assignment into her classroom in an authentic way. She wants to design a project that allows her to get to know her students as readers and to build a community of readers. The teacher also wants to pre-assess students’ abilities to analyze a text. The featured project results in a one-sheet infographic, however, students could create any visual representation of their text. Students complete this project individually.
What does PBL look like in a math classroom?
A middle school math teacher wants her students to understand that geometry is about more than just memorizing the names of shapes and their corresponding formulas. Students will design a bridge using an online program, such as bridgedesigner.org, or create a scale model. Her required curriculum has a strict scope and sequence, so the project will be one station in a station rotation model. To allow for flexibility in grouping for instruction, students will complete this project individually.
What does PBL look like in high school social studies?
A high school social studies teacher wants students in his World History class to learn about a few important historic leaders while examining how different leadership styles can impact the engagement of citizens. To add context, the teacher also wants students to explore their personal civic rights and the associated civil processes and to compare their rights to the rights of individuals in the past. (The featured project originated in a World History class, and the historic examples reach as far back as 200 AD. Depending on the required content of your course, you could also use historic figures from American History.) The student product is relevant to the civic process pursued and can be completed individually or in a group.