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An Introduction to Project-Based Learning

In this hands-on approach to teaching, students create schoolwork that demonstrates core subject knowledge. For more information and resources on project-based learning, click here.

Project-Based Learning: An Overview

Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. See dozens of articles, videos, webinars, and more on Project-Based Learning at Edutopia.

Project-Based Learning: Three Teachers Talk...

Three teachers talk about how they restructured their day to incorporate project based learning (PBL).

Transformed by Technology and Project-Based Learning: High Tech High

High Tech High, a network of K-12 public charter schools, uses rigorous projects and portfolio assessments to revolutionize learning. For more information: Collaboration Generation: Teaching and Learning for a New Age

Project Based Learning & iPad Integration

In this http://POWERONTEXAS.COM video you can see at ACU the belief is that motivated and capable teacher candidates can and should be involved in research. In this segment, see results that would have not been possible without digital technology.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is the use of in-depth classroom projects to facilitate learning and assess student competence. Project-based learning, promoted by the Buck Institute for Education in the late 1990s, is an instructional method that provides students with complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students' problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that includes teacher facilitation, but not direction.

PBL is focused on questions that drive students to encounter the central concepts and principles of a subject in a hands-on method. Students form their own investigation of a guiding question, allowing students to develop valuable research skills as students engage in design, problem solving, decision making, and investigative activities.

Through Project-based learning, students learn from these experiences and apply them to the world outside their classroom. PBL emphasizes creative thinking skills by allowing students to find that there are many ways to solve a problem.

The core idea of project-based learning is that real-world problems capture students' interest and provoke serious thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. 

PBL: Key Elements

Seven key elements to comprehensive project-based Learning:

  • organized around open-ended driving questions or challenges.
  • creates a need to know essential content and skills.
  • requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new.
  • requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication.
  • allows some degree of student voice and choice.
  • incorporates feedback and revision.
  • results in a publicly presented product or performance.

Case Scenario: 'Tiny House' Construction Project


Learn in Education, Sustainability and K-12 Education, January 18, 2013

Learning by Doing: 12-Year-Old Takes on a 'Tiny House' Construction Project


We all grew up with forts: tiny spaces to read, to dream, to hide. Some of us grew out of forts, and some of us just grew taller. My daughter Sicily Kolbeck, a 12-year-old student at HoneyFern School in Marietta, Georgia, is not quite done with forts. This year as her project for school she is building a tiny house, joining a revolution in housing that believes smaller is better.

Sicily decided to build her tiny house after discovering Deek Diedrickson's Tiny Yellow House and Relaxshacks YouTube channel, as well as Kirsten Dirksen's We, the Tiny House People documentary. These videos inspired her to look more deeply at the tiny house movement and eventually led her to use the tiny house as her entire school curriculum in the fall of 2012.

To read more about Sicily's 'Tiny House' project and project-based learning at HoneyFern School, click here.


Case Scenario: Robert Heft and the 50-Star Flag of the U.S.A.


Robert G. "Bob" Heft (January 19, 1941  – December 12, 2009), born in Saginaw, Michigan, was the designer of the current United States of America 50-star flag. 

Heft designed the current flag as a high school project in 1958 by unstitching the blue field from a family 48-star flag, sewing in a new field, and using iron-on white fabric to add 100 hand-cut stars, 50 on each side of the blue canton.

Heft originally received a B- for the project. After discussing the grade with his high school teacher, Stanley Pratt, it was agreed that if the flag was accepted by the United States Congress, the grade would be reconsidered.

Heft's flag design was chosen and adopted by presidential proclamation after Alaska and before Hawaii were admitted into the union in 1959.

According to Heft, his teacher honored their agreement and changed his grade to an A for the project.

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