PBL Lesson Plans

Most educators - especially those new to project-based learning - have always structured their lessons around lesson plans.  We've dug up a few PBL-related plans to serve as a guide. ​

PBL Lesson Plans

Projects that come out of project-based learning classrooms are like snowflakes and fingerprints - no two are ever alike. They may share characteristics, topics, subjects and titles, but they’ll always be different. The proposal will be different. The path the student takes to complete the project will be different. The advice from teacher to student will be different. And, of course, the end result will be different.

Project-based learning lesson plans are an oxymoron to some degree. At its core, project-based learning is unscripted. There are guides and rubrics and a plethora of other materials to keep both the teacher and student on the right track, but the destination is always unknown, as is the path taken to get there. It truly is an exploration.

On the other hand, most educators - especially those new to project-based learning - have always structured their teaching around lesson plans. So it’s natural to seek out project-based learning lesson plans when shifting toward a PBL approach. Thankfully, the Internet is packed with sample plans for eager teachers to peruse. We’ve even included links to some that are freely available below. However, we can’t stress enough the point that we made above - that all projects are unique. Each of the examples you’ll find below map out how one student (or group of students) chose to tackle one particular topic. Allow them to aid in your planning and brainstorming, but don’t let them become a “must follow” road map.

Think of it as the difference between “can” and “must.” The examples below are ways in which a classroom can approach and complete a particular project, not how they must do it.

West Virginia Department of Education - Dozens of project-based learning lesson plans that can be sorted by subject, topic or grade level. It’s a wonderful collection of plans for those who are just dipping their toes into PBL - people looking for specific examples of how a particular project was mapped out by another classroom.  

Buck Institute for Education - One of our favorite PBL resources - the Buck Institute for Education - has links to hundreds of project-based learning lesson plans categorized by subject and by source. Look for the “Project Search” form on the right side of their home page.  

21st Century Schools - A handful of handy tools for those new to PBL, including a section on instructional strategies for the classroom.  

Intel Education - Project examples of all subject types and grade levels, including elementary age.