In my Learning Through Projects series, I wrote about crafting questions that drive projects. Developing interesting, relevant, and meaningful driving questions is challenging. To help teachers with project based learning, Global Digital Citizenship Foundation has free publications with ideas and resource links. The publications are PDFs and are licensed under Creative Commons, so you may distribute or print them as long as you do not modify them in any way.
Project Based Learning in the Classroom: Project Ideas Year K-5 includes projects with these driving questions:
- How does the design of an object affect its behavior with the laws of motion?
- Why do we organize our lives using time measurements?
- How does giving to this in need build character and promote unity in organizations and in communities?
- Why is the art of storytelling with pictures important in so many aspects of our everyday lives?
- What ways can we use our understanding of the past to create a better way of life for the future?
- How can caring for our pet’s health and well being be beneficial for our own?
- How does learning about other cultures and their way of life create a better world for everyone?
- Why do we use art and stories to express things that truly matter to us?
Project Based Learning in the Classroom: Project Ideas Year 6-9 includes projects with these driving questions:
- How could exploring the surfaces of other planets help humanity in the future?
- What goes into the successful design and marketing of an original product?
- How can we combine art and research in order to tell stories about our wold history?
- Why are logos we see every day so memorable and effective for the companies they represent?
- What is the best way to get people thinking creatively about finding solutions to the environmental issues we face?
- How can skills in mathematics be applied to planning the success of our recreational activities?
- What are the best ways to ensure tourism remains part of a happy, healthy community?
- Why are we intrigued by the mysteries of our past, and what keys could they hold for shaping humanity’s future?
Project Based Learning in the Classroom: Project Ideas Year 10-12 includes projects with these driving questions:
- What goes into training and improving the performance of a professional athlete?
- Why are creative minds and critical thinkers so crucial to the evolution of our way of life?
- What does it take to turn your passion into a business?
- How can we show the parallel between modern life and the lives of characters in classic works of literature?
- How would understanding the function of our planet’s core help us to become more environmentally friendly?
- How are math and calculations making our homes and surrounding more beautiful?
- How can learning about ancient cultures help us build a mindset of true global citizen ship awareness?
- How can we investigative reports be structured to be both informative and persuasive?
One of these project ideas might be a springboard to a project you do with students. Below is my checklist of ways to refine a project’s driving question. You might not be able to check off all items, but the more checks, the better.
- The question is appealing to students.
- The question taps into students’ interests and passions.
- The question does not sound like a test question.
- The question leads to more questions.
- There is more than one answer to the question.
- The topic is personal or local.
- Students can relate to the question in their daily lives.
- The question is concise.
- Students will have choices for end products.
- There is an authentic audience for the project.
- The question requires serious investigation.
- Students will learn important skills and content.
- The question has no easy answer.
- The project will somehow make a difference in the world.