Developing an Entry-Level Chemistry PBL: Creating a Tool Box for Success


Today’s post is an update on project planning I am currently doing with Ms. S, a second year chemistry teacher. When I last left off with Ms. S and Ms. C, I requested they both consider what standards they wanted their projects to have students to do some deep-diving. In wonderful fashion, Ms. S did just that for both a fall project idea and a spring project idea. We spent our planning time work on her fall idea. Using several Buck Institute resources (, we started the design process, which to be fair is an overwhelming venture the first time you take it on as a teacher. Why so overwhelming? PBL requires considering a far more variables than typical lesson planning does, and a teacher must plan several contingencies, which amounts to a stressful process where a teacher does not always know where to begin the first time they design a PBL. Like many bad memories, I tend to forget how difficult my first year of doing pervasive PBL really was on me mentally and physically. As I try to coach others like Ms. S, I try my best to recall those feelings of being tired and overwhelmed. Empathy is important when guiding other educators into uncharted waters–remembering we’re in it together keeps me humble and helps me give other teachers perspective. Still, empathy only goes so far. A teacher still needs a firm launching point, so I used BIE resources and a few in-house documents to create a project planning packet.

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Actual photo of my class in action. This was during our Summer Summit back in July.

This is a very quick post about a great starting place for project-based learning tools. The Buck Institute is a wonderful organization that has been on the forefront of PBL for quite a long time. I’ve had the privledge of working with a few of their associates in the past, and the link I am sharing today is a just a place to find some great freebies to get started in PBL or to even tweak what you’re already doing.

I was inspired to post this because of a colleague, whom I coach football with, is trying to inject some PBL into his fourth grade classroom. I immediately sent him this link that I’m sharing with you.

Click Here!

You’ll find rubrics, assessment guides, project calendars, task management forms, and plenty of advise!

On an unrelated note, has anyone seen the online tool Minecraft at work? I have a group of students using it currently for a project and I’m impressed with their use of it so far. I’ll be sharing soon what they’ve been up to and give you the skinny on this new, “simplistic” gaming tool in terms of project construction. Stay tuned!