Recommended Handbooks and Guides on Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Here are the handbooks and guides that I recommend to teachers and administrators working to implement Project-Based Learning (PBL) in today's schools. -- Bob, April 2012 and updated as new books are available. Updated October, 2016.

October, 2016: Project Based Learning: Preparing Students for Tomorrow, Engaging Them Today, by John Larmer, BIE, 2016
June, 2015: Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning: A Proven Approach to Rigorous Classroom Instruction, by John Larmer, John Mergendoller & Suzie Boss, ASCD Books, 2015.

Project Based Learning: Preparing Students for Tomorrow, Engaging Them Today is written in an easy-to-read, jargon-free style and features colorful graphic design. It has sections on why PBL is important for today's K-12 students, what PBL is - with answers to FAQs about it - and what to expect at a school using PBL. Also included are powerful quotes from students and parents about the value of PBL, example projects from various subjects and grade levels, and links to websites and videos for more information. This booklet will help you build understanding and support for PBL in your school or district.

Published by BIE and authored by Editor in Chief John Larmer, this 32-page color booklet explains PBL for parents and other members of a school community. Click here to see the blog about this booklet.

Order here. Volume pricing available.

Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning: A Proven Approach to Rigorous Classroom Instruction, by John Larmer, John Mergendoller & Suzie Boss, ASCD Books, 2015

Project based learning (PBL) is gaining renewed attention with the current focus on college and career readiness and the performance-based emphases of Common Core State Standards, but only high-quality versions can deliver the beneficial outcomes that schools want for their students.

The authors—leaders at the respected Buck Institute for Education—take readers through the step-by-step process of how to create, implement, and assess PBL using a classroom-tested framework.

Order here.

2014: Available in traditional Chinese, modern Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. No longer available in English. BIE recommends instead the 3 handbooks below.

PBL Handbook, Second Edition, By Thom Markham with John Larmer and Jason Ravitz, PhD, Buck Institute for Education, 2003

The PBL Handbook provides an overview of the what, why, and how of PBL. It guides middle and high school teachers through all phases of successful PBL, from deciding on a project idea to reflecting on the outcomes of a project.

Order here.

PBL Starter Kit, By John Larmer with David Ross and John R. Mergendoller, PhD, Buck Institute for Education, 2009

The PBL Starter Kit is written for middle school and high school teachers who are new to PBL. It contains easy to read, brief and to-the-point advice about your first, relatively simple project, with examples and tools to help you plan it well. It can be used as a supplement to BIE professional development workshops or as a stand-alone guide to PBL.

Order here.

PBL in the Elementary Grades, By Sara Hallerman and John Larmer, Buck Institute for Education, 2011

Designed for teachers of Kindergarten through 5th grade students, PBL in the Elementary Grades contains down-to-earth, classroom-tested advice, including sample projects, step-by-step guidance, tips from experienced practitioners, and planning tools.

Order here.

PBL for 21st Century Success, By Suzie Boss. Edited by John Larmer and John Mergendoller, Buck Institute for Education, 2013

July 2013 -- The newest book in BIE’s PBL Toolkit series is a practical guide to building 21st century student competency in the “4 C’s” – critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation. Designed for middle school and high school teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders, this book details how the 4 C’s align with the Common Core State Standards.

Order here.

Enriched Learning Projects: A Practical Pathway to 21st Century Skills, By James Bellanca, Solution Tree Press, 2010

Enriched Learning Projects effectively guides teachers through project planning, assessment, and implementation. Bellanca does this and more. His book is an intellectual dialogue direct with you, as a teacher, showing you not only how to design, assess, and implement projects, but also how to directly support your students with mind tools and mediation of critical thinking.

See Bob Pearlman's foreword to Enriched Learning Projects. Order the book here. Solution tree has also provided a superb reproducible resources page.

Authentic Learning Experiences: A Real World Approach to Project Based Learning, By Dayna Laur, 2014

Learn how to implement a real-world approach to PBL. Authentic learning experiences are created around genuine, outside audiences and meaningful purposes. They meet the Common Core, engage students in critical thinking and 21st Century learning, teach important skills such as research and collaboration, and improve student learning. This practical guide provides step-by-step instructions to make it easy for teachers to create their own authentic learning experiences.

Buy the book at Amazon. Also See Dayna Laur's website, Workshops and Resources, Blog. and Twitter: @daylynn

PBL Design and Coaching Guide, By Thom Markham, 2012

The Project Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide will take you through the process of planning and managing world class projects. Included is access to the latest tools, planning forms, and resources for PBL, as well as hundreds of tips on trouble shooting projects, improving project quality, and methods for motivating and engaging students in projects.

Buy the book at Amazon. Thom Markham's website.

Reinventing Project-Based Learning, , 2nd Edition, By Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss Foreword by Leslie Conery, 2008

Reinventing Project-Based Learning offers educators an accessible guide for maximizing the benefits of project-based learning in today's technology-rich learning environment. This reader-friendly book speaks directly to educators, administrators, and professional development specialists who want to transform learning into a more active, student-driven experience, using technology tools for inquiry, collaboration, and connection to the world beyond the classroom. Examples from educators in many different countries showcase this new vision of instructional design.

Buy the book at ISTE store or Amazon.

Transforming Learning through 21st Century Skills: The Who Took My Chalk?™ Model for Engaging You and Your Students, By Lydotta M. Taylor and Jill M. Fratto, The EdVenture Group, 2012

Offering workbook-style-pages and easy-to-read chapters, this book defines 21st century skills, discusses why we need to teach today’s students differently, and shows how to apply 21st century concepts in an education setting. Following an eight-step model, readers learn about change management, the impact of school culture, and goal-setting for school improvement.

Look Inside and see Contents and Foreword by Bob Pearlman

Work That Matters: The Teacher's Guide to Project-based Learning, By Alec Patton, Innovation Unit (UK), published as a partnership of High Tech High (San Diego) and Learning Futures, 2012. Features practices at High Tech High and Expeditionary Learning schools.

Download PDF (Free)

Project Based Learning Guide, National Academy Foundation and Pearson Foundation, 2011

This project-based learning resource, created as part of a partnership between the Pearson Foundation and the National Academy Foundation, focuses on digital storytelling as a tool and instructional best practice for Academies.

Download PDF (Free)