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Sustainable Project-Based Learning

Five Steps for Designing Authentic Classroom Experiences in Grades 5–12

This essential guide shares a five-step process for designing, implementing, and assessing sustainable project-based learning (SPBL) units while ensuring students gain surface-, deep-, and transfer-level knowledge. Brad Sever draws from his daily work as a practitioner to deliver practical strategies for creating meaningful learning experiences that join academic growth with social-emotional skill development—all supported by the power of professional learning communities.

Benefits

  • Learn the benefits of project-based learning (PBL) and social-emotional learning (SEL) to student growth and academic achievement.
  • Access a five-step process for planning, integrating, and sustaining a comprehensive SPBL framework in your curriculum.
  • Receive reproducible tools and templates you can use independently or collaboratively to maximize student engagement and learning.
  • Reflect with end-of-chapter questions to enhance your understanding of the content.
  • Understand how to promote transfer learning skills through connections to real-world experiences.

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Sustainable Project-Based Learning

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Part I: The What and Why of Project-Based Learning
Chapter 1: Defining Sustainable Project-Based Learning
Chapter 2: Reviewing the Seven PBL Design Elements
Chapter 3: Maintaining a Sustainable Relationship With Project-Based Learning
Chapter 4: Integrating Social and Emotional Learning Into SPBL Units
Part II: The How of Sustainable Project-Based Learning
Chapter 5: Step 1: Planning the SPBL Unit
Chapter 6: Step 2: Developing SPBL Assessments
Chapter 7: Step 3: Establishing a Clear Goal for Student Learning
Chapter 8: Step 4: Conducting Teacher Action Research
Chapter 9: Step 5: Reflecting, Refining, and Celebrating
Chapter 10: Transferring Learning Through Three Simultaneous Experiences
Appendix A: Glossary of Key Terms
Appendix B: Protocol Library
Appendix C: Example SPBL Unit Plans

REPRODUCIBLES

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Appendix B

Appendix C

SUGGESTED RESOURCES

BOOKS

  • Bayewitz, M. D., Cunningham, S. A., Ianora, J. A., Jones, B., Nielsen, M., Remmert, W., et al. (2020). Help your team: Overcoming common collaborative challenges in a PLC at Work. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Conzemius, A. E., & O’Neill, J. (2014). The handbook for SMART school teams: Revitalizing best practices for collaboration (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • DuFour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6–11.
  • DuFour, R. (2015). In praise of American educators: And how they can become even better. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. W. (2010). Learning by doing: A handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., Many, T. W., & Mattos, M. (2016). Learning by doing: A handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Marzano, R. J. (2017). The new art and science of teaching. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Maxwell, M., Stobaugh, R., & Tassell, J. L. (2016). Real-world learning framework for secondary schools: Digital tools and practical strategies for successful implementation. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • McDowell, M. (2021). Teaching for transfer: A guide for designing learning with real-world application. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Wiliam, D. (2017). Embedded formative assessment (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

WEBSITES

Chapter 1

Chapter 6