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What is PBL Academy?

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What is PBL Academy?

Our project-based learning academy is designed for ALL K-12 teachers.

In this three-day experience, participants plan their own PBL unit step-by-step while participating in PBL strategies and protocols they can transfer to their own classrooms. 

So what is PBL? 

Project-based learning is active, student-centered learning in which students generate solutions to real problems and/or create authentic products in connection to an overarching question.  The project is the driver for all of the learning and is interwoven throughout the unit; it is not something only completed after the learning or at the end of the unit. 

Project-based learning includes these eight core elements: 

  1. Authenticity — authentic application of standards and an authentic audience for the project 
  2. Student Design — students have input in the process and product
  3. Skills Focus — students develop skills such as speaking, listening, collaboration, work ethic, etc.
  4. Expert Participation — experts are involved during the entry event, for feedback, as an audience, etc. 
  5. Entry Event — launches the project, designed to inspire, motivate, and challenge
  6. Driving Question — provocative, open-ended, challenging, and at the heart of the topic
  7. Student Products — may include a public exhibition, presentation, event, etc. 
  8. Reflection and Feedback — multiple opportunities to reflect and revise

On day one, we unpack what project-based learning IS and what it ISN’T.  Hint: PBL is not the same as “doing projects”.  PBL and classroom projects both have value, and one isn’t “better” than the other–they are different. 

On day two of the training, we visit a local project-based learning high school where participants can see PBL in action and learn from PBL educators and students.

By the end of day three, teachers have a fully-formed PBL unit along with knowledge of three different PBL frameworks and at least 15 PBL strategies and protocols for successful implementation in the classroom! 

We host PBL Academy at our facilities in Grand Rapids, Michigan throughout the year, but also travel throughout the country to bring PBL to your school or district!  See upcoming dates at

Here’s what teachers have to say about PBL Academy: 

The process of creating a PBL unit is much less cumbersome than expected! It seemed a lot more “natural” or “intuitive” with the forms, steps, and structures presented. I feel like this helped me realize PBL really isn’t that hard – I can do it. 🙂

“I loved the ability to collaborate with master teachers K-12.  I also enjoyed the various protocols that were shared, and I feel that I can implement right away next year.”

“I enjoyed having people to give constant and differing feedback at all points of the training.”

Want to know more about PBL? Leave a question below! 

Like these ideas? To learn classroom engagement strategies that make the most immediate impact, we recommend checking out our program, "Fostering Engagement Online Course."

Learn More >

Amy Jimenez

Author Since: May 8, 2018

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