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Thinking Through Project-Based Learning

Thinking Through Project-Based Learning
Guiding Deeper Inquiry

March 2013 | 216 pages | Corwin

Everything you need to know to lead effective and engaging project-based learning!

Are you eager to try out project-based learning, but don't know where to start? How do you ensure that classroom projects help students develop critical thinking skills and meet rigorous standards? Find the answers in this step-by-step guide, written by authors who are both experienced teachers and project-based learning experts.

Thinking Through Projects shows you how to create a more interactive classroom environment where students engage, learn, and achieve. Teachers will find

  • A reader-friendly overview of project-based learning that includes current findings on brain development and connections with Common Core standards
  • Numerous how-to's and sample projects for every K-12 grade level 
  • Strategies for integrating project learning into all main subject areas, across disciplines, and with current technology and social media
  • Ways to involve the community through student field research, special guests, and ideas for showcasing student work

Whether you are new to project-based learning or ready to strengthen your existing classroom projects, you'll find a full suite of strategies and tools in this essential book.

"Ensuring that students take the lead in critical thinking and problem solving is the key to success. This book provides educators with the tools to get students ready for real-world learning and collaboration."
—Tania E. Dymkowski, Instructional Support K-8
Hays CISD, Kyle, TX

"A well-written, engaging book that makes even a master PBL teacher rethink her ideas. A must for all!"
—Lisa Parisi, Teacher
Denton Avenue Elementary School, New Hyde Park, NY

About the Authors
Section One: Inquiry, the Engine of Deep Learning
1. The Whys and Hows of PBL
2. The Inquiring Human Animal
3. Making the World Safe for Thinking
4. The Thinking-Out-Loud-and-in-View Classroom
5. Designing Rich Learning Experiences
Section Two: Taking a Page From the Experts
6. Thinking Across Disciplines
7. Language Arts
8. Social Studies
9. Science
10. Math
11. The Project Spiral
Appendix A: Project Library
Appendix B: Discussion Guide
Appendix C: Professional Development Guide
Appendix D: Project-Based Learning Resources

"The book is filled with examples of how to teach and create critical thinking experiences in project-based learning. It fulfills it purpose of helping teachers have better projects that incorporate a high level of critical thinking and authentic learning. The project-based learning spiral provides teachers with the practical guidance they need in creating critical thinking and authentic learning experiences in project-based learning."

Telannia Norfar, National Faculty Member
Buck Institute for Education, Novato, CA

"This book pulls together related research and current theories of PBL, brain based learning, and inquiry. Any teacher or administrator interested in or doing Project Based Learning will find this book very useful."

Jeanne R. Gren, Principal
Anna Jarvis Elementary School, Grafton, WV

"The book has several purposes (doing PBL rather than just preparing, supporting educators, presenting ways to develop 21st Century skills, and developing inquiry skills) which are clearly defined in the beginning and flows into each chapter. I believe the book makes a distinct contribution because it provides for practical applications in the classroom and for lively discussion in Professional Learning communities."

Patricia Allanson, Math Teacher/Department Chair
River Springs Middle School, Orange City, FL

"Ensuring that students take the lead is critical thinking and problem solving is the key to success. This book will provide educators with the tools to get students ready for real world learning and collaboration."

Tania E. Dymkowski, Instructional Support K-8
Hays CISD, Kyle, TX

"The Ultimate Guide to PBL. A well-written, engaging book that makes even a master PBL teacher rethink her ideas. A must for all!"

Lisa Parisi, Teacher
Denton Avenue Elementary School, New Hyde Park, NY

"I was inspired by the projects and the positive reinforcement the students received."

Susan Harmon, Middle School Teacher
Neodesha Jr/Sr High School, Neodesha, Kansas

Found a book that aligned better to the goals and objectives of the course. The Problem-Based Instruction course is for pre-service science teachers. We adopted Teaching Science in Elementary and Middle School by Krajcik and Czerniak (2014).
I would, however, recommend the Kruas book for general methods.

Dr Robert Ferguson
Teacher Education Dept, Cleveland State University
December 17, 2014
Key features
  • Offers a step-by-step guide to developing inquiry-rich projects, including identifying "power" standards, developing an essential question, planning an entry event, creating rubrics for assessment, and deciding on artifacts of learning.
  • Subject-specific chapters consider the language, tools, and methods professionals use, present projects and project ideas, and include reflections from teachers and students about teaching and learning the subject matter in an interdisciplinary way through projects.
  • Experiments – involving brainstorming, visualization, and reflection, all with the purpose of engaging the reader and activating his or her own inquiring mind.
  • Exercises that help readers connect what they are learning to their own practice
  • Conversations – sample conversations serve as models, familiarizing the reader with new ways of interacting as they guide students in meaningful study.
  • Thinking Routines – the purpose and general rules for thinking routines are described in chapter three, and then appear throughout chapters 4-9.
  • Illustrations from the ideas, practices, projects, and student work made available by teachers through blogs, wikis, project Web sites, photo sharing sites and participation in online discussions and Webinars—as well as illustrations or diagrams to clarify key ideas such as the phases of the inquiry cycle.
  • Resources – there are a variety of templates and forms presented in the book available for download in a companion Web site.
  • Technology Spotlights highlight useful technologies teachers and students use for teaching and learning.
  • Offers numerous samples that illustrate concepts and can be adapted to classroom use, including sample conversations, projects, rubrics
  • Facilitator Guide - a brief guide at the end of the book that helps principals, coaches and others use the text to guide teacher learning. The guide summarizes key concepts from each chapter and advises on facilitating group and individual activities. It also helps the facilitator know what to look for and respond to during class visits.
  • Web site – A resource hub with links to all the online tools, Web sites, forms, and templates presented in the book.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Book Study Discussion Guide

For instructors

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