When you are just starting out in PBL, you may be a bit intimidated and overwhelmed. Starting anything new can be a challenge that leaves you scrambling to try to make sure you have all of the pieces together. When planning your first PBL project, use our handy checklist to make sure your project meets all PBL standards:
1. Based on Standards
As teachers, we’re required to meet standards with everything we teach. Make sure your project includes at least one, but you can typically tackle several with one project.
2. Driving Question or Challenge
The way you present the topic to your students is what will lead them to uncover the standards. Your students will become inspired by a driving question or challenge. This question should translate the boring language we teachers read about in the standards into an exciting question that makes it clear to your students what will happen next. Looking for a helpful way to develop new and energizing driving questions for students? Try creating this “tubric” from the Buck Institute that allows you to piece together the essential parts of a question that you fill in with your standards.
Projects aren’t completed by answering the driving question in one shot. Rather, students should enter a process of inquiry in which they develop questions, research and answer, and then come up with more questions as they are developing their project until they finally finish.
4. 21st Century Skills
All projects should also incorporate 21st century skills. These are skills that will be practiced as students work on the project. Some of these, such as problem solving, analysis and reasoning come naturally, assuming you use the PBL model. Others depend on how you’ll organize students. For example, developing collaboration skills can be achieved by having students work in groups. Learn more about the student outcomes that will support students in their later academic, professional and personal lives through P21, the group that developed the concept of 21st century skills.
5. Student Voice & Choice
All PBL projects allow students to have some influence and say in the project. Why? This helps increase their motivation and interest in the project. Give choices or at least be open to hearing new ideas or variations on the project’s outcome requirements.
Students should keep track of what they’ve learned throughout the process. You may consider using journaling or a similar method to help students keep track of their thoughts about the project. Once finished, further reflection should be completed to help students evaluate their work and comment on the project’s design.
7. Feedback & Revision
Before finishing the final version of the project, you should have some check-ins with your students. You may also consider using peer-reviews. Have students use the constructive feedback to make any modifications for the final project outcome.
8. Real Life
Finally, all PBL projects should have a real-life element. This can often be in a public presentation, meaning that the outcomes are taken beyond the classroom. Whether it’s performing a play to parents or sending letters to the mayor, the project should serve a purpose beyond “turning it in to the teacher.”