Lesson 4: Implementing and Executing Authentic Projects in the Music Classroom

||Etap 623|| Ali_Marshall_Portfolio||Project-Based Learning in the Music Classroom || Lesson 1||Lesson 2||Lesson 3||



  • Participants will design an authentic project for the music classroom.
  • Participants will implement an authentic project for the music classroom.
  • Participants will reflect on the work of their peers and themselves.

Starting PBL in Your Music Classroom

Project design rubric v2019.png

You may be overwhelmed by the amount of material in this course or the student-centered and problem based approach to learning. You can absolutely make this work in your classroom! No time frame is too short and no age is incapable. Use this rubric to check your project throughout the creation process.

Implementing PBL in your classroom is an iterative process and can be refined or changed from year to year. In order to not get overwhelmed it is important to follow the steps for implementing PBL

Before You Create a Project

GlassesPBL.pngThis website offers 2 minute videos that offer quick and easy ways to implement PBL effectively.

  • The first three videos are things to do before implementing PBL.
  • Once a safe space for risk-taking and failing is in place collaboration will be easier for students because they will not feel scared to speak up and take risks.
  • Projects can seem overwhelming if students don't have the proper tools to research. In order to teach students how to successfully pull off a big project, it is important to cover the basics of research and inquiry before allowing them to do it on their own. If we want students to be successful in anything, we must guide them on how to be successful. Research and inquiry based approaches to learning are no different.
  • Project-based learning is not something you need to implement in your classroom every lesson, but the basics of PBL such as risk-taking, collaboration, inquiry, and research are something that can be useful in any unit.

Narrowing Down Your Projects

  • Think back to the unit/lesson ideas you had that you wanted to create authentic projects for.
  • Do your end goals align with your standards?
  • Is there student choice involved?
  • Is there an authentic way in which students can learn and demonstrate their knowledge?
  • If you answer no to any of the above questions, the unit/lesson in mind may not be suited for PBL.

Before moving on, identify one project you have in mind that you want to implement in your classroom and the standards you are covering here

The Driving Question

Now that you have your project idea in mind and you know the standards you are aiming for...it's time to come up with a driving question.

GlassesPBL.pngThis website does an outstanding job of addressing all of the parts of a good driving question

  • A good driving question has multiple answers, promotes inquiry and research, and promotes authentic learning.
  • Whenever thinking about the driving question, it is important to also think about the end goals. Reverse planning helps to ensure that you are able to guide and instruct where needed to keep the students on the right path and so that they meet the objectives by the end of the project.


Now that you know the basics of a driving question, think about your end goal and the project you want to implement.
Create your driving question. Remember to focus on:
1. The question starter (How can I/we)
2. The challenge (design/create/promote)
3. The audience (for my community/in my school/for my family and friends
4. Record your question here

Student Inquiry and Research

  • Now that you have your driving question, you are ready to present it to your students!

  • It is a good idea to also present the students with the standards they are going to be addressing throughout the project and unit so they can keep track of their progress.

  • In the case study in lesson 3, the teacher asks the students the driving question and then asks them to brainstorm what they need to know in order to complete the task--Now it is your turn to do the same thing! The questions and lacking information the students come up with will be what drives the student learning. The teacher's job at this point is to track all student learning and through skilled questioning and guiding make sure students are on the right path.

  • During the project process, students should have a say in how they complete the task at hand. This incorporates the student choice aspect of the project and helps to make for authentic learning.

  • Self-Check At this point in the project, you should have incorporated steps 1-4 of the PBL process. (1. A Challenging Problem or Question, 2. Sustained Inquiry, 3. Authenticity, and 4. Student Voice and Choice)

The Next Steps

At this point the students have accomplished a lot! They should even be close to having some type of product to present. Now it is time to focus on reflection and self-critique.
  • Students should reflect on the work they have created thus far. They should check with the standards and see if what they are creating aligns with the standards. They should also check to make sure they are actually solving the original problem and didn't go off on a tangent.
  • Students should be invited to critique both their work and their classmates work in a constructive way so that improvements can be made as necessary.

Last but not least the students should be ready to present their project whether it be a composition, a concert, a video, a presentation to a music producer, or anything else they could have created.

  • It could be a good idea to have students reflect on the final project as well so they are able to triple check if the final project aligned with the standards and goals, and discuss how the presentation went. A goal moving forward could be to have students be more confident or more prepared for the next project!


Here is a checklist for implementing PBL in your music classroom. Use this to reflect before, during, and after each project you implement in your classroom to make sure you are always offering your students PBL and not just dessert projects.

  • On your own, reflect on what went well when you implemented the project in your music classroom. If things didn't go well, revisit this course and try to revise your plan where needed.

Happy project-ing!

Reflect on this mini-course

  • As educators I think we can agree that it is very important to reflect upon our work. Since this is largely an online course, I would love feedback on how to improve this course in the future.
  • Please take the time to answer these reflection questions to help improve this course.

Extended Resources