In project-based learning, students work over an extended period of time answering a driving question.  The question is so deep that it requires students to create a project to share their findings with others.

Process for learning through projects:

  1. Question
  2. Investigate
  3. Share

PollEverywhere can be used to collect student responses.  View our responses from What's Most Important for Students to Learn Today?

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration 

Radio WillowWeb podcast for kids, by kids

Make any image into an online jigsaw puzzle at Jigsaw Planet. Try this jigsaw of the definition of project-based learning. iPad users can use the Up in Pieces app to make jigsaws from any saved images.

Projects take an extended period of time to complete.

Activities can be completed in a a matter of a few class periods.

Angela Maiers’ mantra: “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”

Do you want to cover material for students or do you want them to uncover it for themselves? 

“The greatest obstacle to learning is coverage.” -Howard Garner

Project-Based vs. Project-Oriented Learning Video

Create a grading rubric with student input. Rubistar is a great place to design rubrics. Project Based Checklists is another place to help keep students on track with their projects.


Example Driving Questions:

  1. How can we best stop the flu at our school?
  2. Is it worth the expense to move to an organic diet?
  3. Which element of the periodic table is most important?
  4. Should the U.S. use the metric system?
  5. Which simple machine is most important to you?
  6. Should government bail out businesses?
  7. Is it better to buy or lease a car?
  8. What if Rosa Parks never gave up her seat?
  9. Design a better lunch menu for your school.
  10. What if students use their own mobile devices in school?

What Makes a Good Vice President video example on YouTube.

Add parameters to the driving question to ensure that standards are met.

What makes a good vice president?

  1. Include the branch of government the position is part of.
  2. Include the roles and powers of the position.
  3. Explain how someone is elected or appointed to the position.
  4. Include information about at least two people who have held the position.
  5. Explain the role of the position in Gerald Ford's succession to presidency.
  6. Include how the office holder is positioned in the line of succession to the presidency.
  7. Include at least one map, chart, or graph.
  8. Give the project your personal touch.

Example rubric for What Makes a Good Vice President?

Driving Question Tips

  1. Where are the standards/content used in the real world?
  2. Cannot be answered with copy and paste
  3. Will the result create something new?
  4. Student voice and choice
  5. Personal and/or local
  6. What? What if? Which?

Refine the Question

  1. Shorten as much as possible.
  2. Question should appeal to students.
  3. Make it personal or local.
  4. Leads to more questions. 
  5. As much room for student voice and choice as possible.

A driving question should lead to more questions. For example, in Use facts and statistics to convince others to stop your pet peeve, Tony's driving question lead to these questions to drive his investigation about shopping carts:

  • How much do door dings raise car insurance premiums?
  • Is there a time or day when more carts are left in the lot?
  • What is the affect of the distance of the cart return from the vehicle?
  • Why don't people return their carts?
  • How many parking spots are taken up by left carts.
  • Why does Phoenix seem to have a larger problem with returning carts than Omaha?
  • What if the cart return was a strip down the middle of each row?

Scribblar is an online whiteboard that can be shared among many people. The Scribblar whiteboard we used is at iPad users can use Idea Sketch for branching questions, but it's not collaborative like Scriblar.

An anchor or opening activity gets students excited, interested, and curious about the topic of the driving question.

Edutopia has great videos about project-based learning.



Students explore the answers to their questions through books, web, interviews, experiments, and/or data collection.

Remember that anyone can put anything on the web. Students need to be sleuths and approach their questions as a mystery that other may be trying to cover up.

Qwiki is a place to get an overview of a topic using multimedia.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.




Giving students a choice in how they present their project increases authentic engagement.

Record audio using free Audacity software or online with Vocoroo or Myna.

Speaking Tips

  1. Enunciate clearly
  2. Speak at a normal volume
  3. Talk as if you are speaking to a friend
  4. Prepare & practice
  5. Record in short portions
  6. Reduce background noise
  7. Smile!

Make talking pictures at and

Create online posters at

Create comic strips at

Create animations at

iPad Users may be interested in PuppetPals, ShowMe, Splice, and SonicPics for sharing projects.

Comic Touch Lite is a free app for adding speech bubbles and call outs to an image.

Rubistar is a great place to design rubrics. Project Based Checklists is another place to help keep students on track with their projects.

Remember, how you implement project-based learning in your classroom depends on who and what you teach and what tools you have available.