Unit 1: What is Project Based Learning


Return to Project Based Learning in the General Music Classroom


Lesson Objectives

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Students will define Project Based Learning through readings and discovery
  2. Students will identify the educational theories that lead to PBLs success through research

What is Project Based Learning?

Definition: Project based learning (PBL) is most easily defined as a classroom approach where students are actively engaged in real world problems and activities to construct their own understanding on a topic.

Driving Questions: A good project always starts with a driving question or problem. In the science world students can look for the solution to a problem that their community is having with a draught. In the general music classroom students can take on roles such as composers, music promoters, app designers, etc. and work towards creating a project that would have them taking on that role.

For example, students can become "music promoters" and create promotion posters that would require them to look up the history of the type of music that is performing and create an authentic pitch to get people interested in coming to the concert. Thus, students are constructing their understanding of various types of music and completing a real-world project.

A link to information about Driving Questions: http://bie.org/object/webinars_archived/driving_questions

Authenticity: Good projects are also authentic and relevant to students. Students will not be engaged or willing to work on a project and construct their own knowledge if they are not interested or if the project does not relate to their lives in some way. Creating projects that are relevant and engaging for students is one of the driving forces behind PBL.

A link to information about Authenticity: http://bie.org/blog/what_does_it_take_for_a_project_to_be_authentic

Project Essentials: Every project must have the same seven essential elements. Use this link to see what those elements are and how to incorporate them into a project.

7 Essentials: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Essentials_for_Project-Based_Learning.aspx

Here is a link to Edutopia that is a great resource for ideas on PBL: http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning

Why is Project Based Learning Beneficial in the Classroom?

Why Use PBL in Your Classroom?: When teachers begin to use PBL in the classroom they are committing to take on the role of a facilitator instead of having the classroom revolve around them and direct instruction. The teacher provides the students with a driving question and then scaffolds the students to be successful with completing the project. During the entire process students are provided with feedback and formative assessment, so that they know where and what they can improve before completing their final artifact of the project. Students create authentic artifacts through every project that they can display or present in some way to show their learning. During the entire project students are constructing their own understanding of a topic in order to have a deeper understanding of the material. Students are also building their 21st century skills. These are skills that they will need later in life.

The following articles from BIE and ASCD explain the importance of PBL and why it is beneficial: http://bie.org/object/document/main_course_not_dessert


Also read this article related to PBL and the theories behind its use: [[

File: PBL_Article.pdf]]

Resources for More Information


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8


Follow this link to a Google Slides Document


Create a slide to answer the following question:

After reviewing the information from Unit 1, in your own words, define Project Based Learning. What would you still like to discover? Could project based learning be beneficial in your classroom?

Comment on at least one other student's slide using the comment action.

References & Resources

David, J. (2008). What Research Says About.../Project Based Learning. Teaching Students to Think. 65(5). 80-82. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/feb08/vol65/num05/Project-Based_Learning.aspx

Larmer, John (2012) What Does it Take for a Project to be Authentic? Retrieved from: http://bie.org/blog/what_does_it_take_for_a_project_to_be_authentic

Larmer, J. & Mergendoller, J. (2010). Seven Essentials for Project Based Learning. Giving Students Meaningful Learning. 68(1). 34-37. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Essentials_for_Project-Based_Learning.aspx

Larmer, J. & Mergendoller, J. (2010). The Main Course, Not Dessert: How are Students Reaching 21st Century Goals? With 21st Century Project Based Learning. Buck Institute for Education. Retrieved from: http://bie.org/object/document/main_course_not_dessert




Go To: Unit 2: The Current State and National Standards