Teaching Resources

Free Tools Aim to Help Teachers Implement PBL in the Classroom

An organization that promotes project-based learning has launched a free set of "idea cards" for teachers to help them implement PBL in their classrooms. The Buck Institute for Education's new PBLWorks features 63 downloadable projects for K-12 in English language arts, math, science, social studies, world languages, fine arts, health and physical education and other STEM topics. The organization said it expected to add new cards to the collection over the year.

Each project card includes a "driving question," a project description, the learning standards the project addresses, the anticipated outcomes and reflection questions to help educators bring the learning to life in their own settings.

Among the projects, which have been tried out in classrooms before being published on the site, are these:

  • "Community Heroes," a social studies project for grades K-2 that poses the question, "What makes someone a community hero?" Students research and create portraits of community heroes that are assembled into a gallery for public display.
  • "The Scoop on Our Stuff," an ELA project for grades 11-12 that asks, "What is the true cost of the things we buy?" Students research the origin of popular brand name products and the related labor, environmental and political facets of manufacturing and distributing these products. They turn their research into expose-style articles to share.
  • "Crash Course!" a physics/engineering project for grades 9-12 that wonders, "How do we protect the things and people we care about from collisions?" Students identify possible collision scenarios and then design and build protective solutions. The work includes conferring with experts to gather feedback on their product designs. Work includes writing a design brief for a manufacturer that includes an analysis of the problem (with the math).

"By offering ideas for high quality projects, we hope to help and inspire teachers to get started with or grow their use of PBL in the classroom," said Bob Lenz, executive director of PBLWorks, in a statement. "Each project represents an authentic challenge, and student work is structured to promote academic mastery and development of 21st century success skills such as critical thinking and teamwork."

The library can be accessed with site registration on the PBLWorks website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.