Project-Based Learning Essentials

Welcome to the asynchronous module, Project-Based Learning Essentials. At your own pace, read through the materials, watch the short video clips, and reflect on your own practice. This module is approximately 1 hour in length and can be completed in one sitting or in smaller parts. When you have competed the module, click the link to the questionnaire in the box to the right. After successfully submitting the questionnaire, your contact hour certificate will automatically be emailed to the address provided in the questionnaire. If you should have any questions about this process or the content in this module, please contact Jason Anderson at  

Project-Based Teaching Practices:  Design & Plan




(~5 minutes)

Essential Elements of Project-Based Learning

8 circles, each containing one of the essential elements of PBL, arranged to create a large circle with PBL the 8 essesntial elements written in the center

Most resources reference 7 or 8 Essential Elements to consider when implementing project-based learning. These include:

  • curriculum content (key knowledge derived from standards),
  • 21st Century skills (sometimes considered "soft" skills that overlap with Maine's Guiding Principles),
  • need to know (the problem or project piques student curiosity and is relatable),
  • driving question (compelling, complex and open-ended question that has no single "right" answer and that guides student thinking and learning),
  • student voice and choice (project allows some student choice),
  • in-depth inquiry (sustained learning over time),
  • reflection and revision (time to self-reflect on learning and revise product is built into the project's design), and
  • audience-presented product (final product is public facing to an authentic audience).

These elements should be carefully considered when planning project-based learning. Each of these elements helps to differentiate between projects and project-based learning. 

Perhaps the most critical aspect in the launch of a successful project-based learning experience is to create the "need to know" for students through a well-crafted driving question. The driving question forms the bulk of this asynchronous Project-Based Learning Essentials module. 


What is a Driving Question? PBL Simplified with Magnify Learning


(~3 1/2 minutes)

Using Driving Questions to Propel Literacy Skills


(~2 minutes)

Driving Questions Guide

(~20-25 minutes)

Work through the Google slides from Magnify Learning. Peruse the sample driving questions linked on slide 12 and try out the Driving Question Brainstorm linked on slide 16.

Read the following articles and blogs:

Establishing Real-World Connections in Projects

(~ 2 1/2 minutes)

Facilitating Learning in a Student-Driven Environment


(~3 1/2 minutes)

Personalized Learning:  Enabling Voice and Choice Through Projects


(~6 minutes)

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