Last updated: September 29, 2022
My First English PBL Experience
I used to struggle with putting together PBL lesson plans. My first English project idea was to turn the dreaded book report into an authentic book review. My third graders published their reviews on Amazon.com (with the help of parent volunteers). It was rewarding to see the kids embrace the project and write more eloquently and thoughtfully than they would for a typical book report. But like many other first-time project based learning plans, the whole thing required much more planning time than I had imagined.
Then I discovered these time-saving PBL resources. These lesson plans serve as guides and ready-made formulas to help teachers bring authentic, inquiry-based learning experiences to their students. It’s relatively easy to adapt quite a few of them to a broader variety of grade levels or to a homeschooling curriculum.
The projects are listed by grade level below. If you find one that your students really embrace, please let me know in the comments section!
Sources of English Projects for All Grade Levels
These sites are a world-wide resource of collaborative projects for combined grades K-12. They connect students in two or more classrooms. Use their search tools to select topics for your grade, subject, and other attributes such as language or country.
- iEARN Collaboration Centre
Projects listed here have a global citizenship focus. For elementary students, they range from dance and music to storytelling. For middle school students, examples include co-writing autobiographies, a joint novel, or a piece about local environmental concerns. High school level projects encompass seven foreign languages, the environment, and cultural exchange packets, to name a few.
Language Arts Projects for Elementary School Grades
- The Storytime Channel| PBLU.org
In this grade K-2 project, students create video productions of fables and folktales. They collaborate in teams to read the story, then create storyboards and scripts before producing a video for the class Storytime Channel.
- Google Historical Voyages and Historical Events | Carol LaRow
This project is designed for upper elementary and older students. Children mine research about significant events and explorers of their local area. Then they create a historic web page of their community.
- Toy Story [ High Tech Elementary
Kids in grades 2-5 partner with preschool children and learn the elements of creating a story. They create a toy for a preschool child and write a story for their pre-K buddy about what the toy does when no one is around.
- The Animal Important Book | Models of Excellence
Target grade level is 1. In this nonfiction writing project, children pick a local wild animal to write about. They gather information about the animal’s characteristics, habitat, diet, predators and adaptations. They use this info to write and illustrate an article about the animal. The class’s articles are compiled into the animal book. Easily adaptable to other grades and target skills.
Middle School Language Arts Projects
- Mysteries Solved | PBLU.org
For students in grades 4-8. Working in literary circle or book clubs, students read and analyze mystery novels or stories. They construct criteria for what makes a good mystery, then use what they’ve learned to write a mystery text or graphic novel. They share their stories at a community event.
- Inside the Writers Studio 8 | Curriki.org
For 8th grade, this curriculum guide has three mini-units of study that address diverse genres of writing through a writing workshop. It culminates with students creating a “Best of” guide for food and entertainment in their hometown.
- Community Photojournalist| PBLU.org
For students in grades 3-12. Students investigate community-based or cultural stories to create photo essays and recordings. They then publish their stories online.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Hypertext Writing | ReadWriteThink.org
For students in grades 6-8. Students write an adventure story and create their own endings. They use web-authoring software to hyperlink the story together and post it online.
High School Language Arts Projects
- Consumer Product Development & Production Cycle | Ford PAS Curriculum
These 20 modules are cross-curricular and include extensive resources for teachers and students to take a product from concept to consumer. Free registration required.
- Banned Books & Censorship | Edutopia.org
English teacher Andrew Miller’s idea: Nothing inspires the need to read like banned books! Here’s how to incorporate literacy, voice and choice, and social studies into one engaging PBL project.
- Project Work in (English) Language Teaching | CA Favier
Although designed for adults, this project is easily adaptable to students in grades 9-12 with intermediate skills in a foreign language or English as a second language. The project involves creating and presenting a short film in any language.
- Why Do Emos and Punks Write Poetry? | Bianca Hewes
Designed for students in grades 9-10, this poetry analysis project using popular music does an excellent job explaining and modeling the eight elements of project-based learning.
- The Muse Project | Edutopia.org
For students in grades 9-12. In this project, students explore what myth is and how it is connected to identity. The students conduct in-depth literary analysis as they answer the question, “Who am I?”.
- Children’s Book Project | ReadWriteThink.org
For students in grades 9-12, ReadWriteThink’s interactive project involves students in composing a children’s picture book, complete with illustrations, a front cover, and back cover.
- The Moth | PBLU.org
For students in grades 9-12. Students learn the characteristics of telling a compelling personal narrative, using a range of models. Drawing from personal experience, they write their own stories and share them in a “Moth”-style storytelling event. Free registration required to download project details.