Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity


Why Project Based Learning (PBL)?

The world we are preparing students for is far different than when we were in school. Our global economy is calling for employees who can collaborate, create, design, and problem-solve more than ever. If we wish to prepare a generation of students who can solve real-world problems, we must give them real world problems to solve.  If we want to graduate students who can manage their time and collaborate with others, me must give them guidance and practice managing their time and collaborating with others. 


Project Based Learning is an effective, meaningful, and enjoyable way to learn and to develop these skills for college, career, and life. In a PBL classroom, students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Projects address content standards through an integrated approach and focus on additional success skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and self-management. Here are some additional benefits to consider:


  • PBL makes school more engaging for students.  Projects provide real-world relevance for learning.  By providing a vision of an end product, PBL creates a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts. This is further enhanced through presentations for an audience beyond the school.

  • PBL builds success skills for college, career, and life.  Students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, solve problems, work in teams, and communicate ideas, thus increasing their confidence and transforming how they think of themselves as learners.

  • PBL helps address standards. The Common Core and other state standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, such as communicating in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL is an effective way to meet these goals.

  • PBL connects students and schools with communities and the real world.  Projects provide students with opportunities to interact with adults and organizations within their community.  They are exposed to workplaces, adult jobs, and can develop career interests.

Projects vs. PBL


Projects have been a recognized part of instruction for many decades.  In most classrooms, teachers cover topics with a combination of instructional approaches and then assign a project once the topics and skills have been covered.  Students often complete these projects on their own at home.  Projects are then displayed in the classroom and the unit culminates with an assessment emphasizing factual recall. In this example, the project was more of a “dessert.”


In PBL, projects are the “main course.”  In other words, students learn the material from completing the project, which has multiple products, assessments, and feedback along the way.  Consider the following brief project examples:

  • Design it Clean: In the Design It Clean project, students work in teams to develop water filters that are dependable, affordable, and can provide clean water for specific communities in the real world.

  • A Great Place to Visit: In this project, students have the opportunity to develop a walking tour of downtown. Teams identify community landmarks that should be included on the tour, research history surrounding those landmarks using primary and secondary resources, and communicate their findings by writing and recording a narrative that will guide their tour.  They will present their tours to the Chamber of Commerce. 

Want to learn more about PBL?  Explore the links off to the right!

Learn More!

Odyssey Middle School

5001 NW Nan Henriksen Way

Camas, WA 98607


School Hours | 8:45 - 3:20

Office Hours | 8:00 - 4:00

Discovery High School

5125 NW Nan Henriksen Way

Camas, WA 98607


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