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What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a culturally relevant, authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Project-Based Learning includes opportunities for students to grapple with and challenge systems of inequity and propose solutions for change.

In a project-based unit, students are engaged in solving a real-world problem that includes a motivating kickoff experience, relevant and inspiring guiding questions, meaningful fieldwork, and a culminating event where students share their projects with an authentic audience. During these presentations of learning, students apply their learning rather than just restate their work — particularly when presentations are grounded in service, social activism or advocacy.

Project-based units run from two weeks to a semester. All projects explicitly focus on building literacy skills, particularly in reading and writing nonfiction text and writing from evidence.

How Do we Support Project-Based Learning in Schools?

We support project-based learning through a series of professional learning workshops and direct teacher and team coaching. Schools choose from one or more project-based learning strands which are customized to meet the individual goals of each school.

Our staff work with leadership and teachers to help them implement specific project-based learning practices that prepare students to create meaningful, authentic, standards-aligned projects. We encourage teacher teams to work together to plan curriculum, share knowledge, test tools and brainstorm solutions to ensure equity of voice.

Sample Teacher Learning Targets

  • I can design a unit or curriculum that promotes deep learning and engagement and brings the state learning standards to life.
  • I can design a product rich in authenticity and complexity that will require students to read for and write with evidence.
  • I can identify strategies for creating a respectful and supportive culture for critique and feedback.
  • I can determine how to support students in sharing their learning with an authentic audience.
  • I can design daily lessons that put students at the center of their own learning.

Offerings Include

  • A needs assessment, including a learning walk and curriculum review
  • A “Project-Based Learning 101” professional development sequence to introduce the concept and purpose of project-based learning and the selected focus areas to all staff
  • “Core Learning Experiences,” including professional learning workshops around one or more Project-based Learning Strands, individual and group coaching sessions, classroom observations, and leadership meetings
  • A half day of staff team building activities
  • Half-day planning session for an end-of-year celebration of learning

5 Ways PBL Leads to More Equitable & Engaged Classrooms

Project-based learning is the tool that NYC Outward Bound Schools educators leaned on during virtual learning. Now, as we return to in-person learning, PBL can help create more equitable and engaged classrooms of students.

Project-Based Learning Strands

Designing Project-Based Learning Units and Curricula

  • Creating challenging case studies and learning expeditions
  • Choosing compelling topics and creating guiding questions
  • Backward planning using standards, targets and assessments


Lessons that Support Project-Based Learning

  • Creating daily lessons to engage and support students
  • Using protocols to create a student-centered classroom
  • Designing lessons that allow students to give each other meaningful feedback


Scaffolding for High-Quality Work

  • Providing opportunities for students to engage with authentic audiences during final product presentations
  • Creating rubrics that support purposeful student learning
  • Designing units that result in actionable work-products and empowering students to take action

For more information about implementing Project-Based Learning as a Select Strategy, fill out this form or contact Badari Ambatti, Director of Client Relations at [email protected] or (718) 706-9900 x 125.

See Our Other Shared Practices:

Select Strategy: Crew

Crews focus on building essential social-emotional and academic skills through a combination of team building, student-centered academic support, conflict resolution and adventure. Learn more.

Select Strategy: Student-Engaged Assessment

Student-engaged assessment is a strategy that helps students understand and take ownership of their own growth as learners. Learn more.

Adventure & Team Building

We offer safe, fun and engaging Adventure and Team Building programming to students and educators. These programs range from one-day community-building workshops in city parks to multi-day adventures at our basecamp in Fishkill, NY. Learn more.

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