Let’s Have Each Student Design a Project in our British Literature Survey

What is project-based learning? Let’s start by celebrating this diagram that will explain our instructional goals during this creative and meaningful learning process. After deliberate reflection, the way for us to enter into this great mode of learning is for me to give you “voice and choice” regarding a project you want to make that complements your learning in English IV Honors. Moving forward we will keep these points in mind and discuss how best to help each learner design a project.

  • So realize that when you make something in a learning atmosphere, brain based research informs that you will remember that content far longer than material studied for traditional academic assessments.
  • Also appreciate that the iterative and collaborative process that we use in class will better help you internalize confidence in the complicated and messy process of collaboration and authentic learning so that you hopefully transfer these skills into your college courses and future careers.
  • Disciplinary suggestion: What is the migratory project associated with any of the stories in our anthology? Note that we will be visiting an exhibit at Yale on this very topic: https://britishart.yale.edu/exhibitions
  • Gamification in a learning environment = the future of education: One possible track: Minecraft. Can you create Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and bank side neighborhood?
  • Realize that designers actually enjoy and revel in the design process itself. So begin with an open mind and a belief that if you create many ideas and prototypes, you will then find one more appealing in later stages of our work. Good designers and engineers also remove harsh judgement from this phase of the project. Instead try to come up with multiple ideas and pursue them a little more with words and images.
  • Let’s devote time to research other students who made projects for an English or ELA classroom. Perhaps you will find a good model to share because it resonates with our disciplinary goals (British Literature) for this endeavor. Or you may find a topic that involves a technique and illuminates an aspect of the collaborative nature of project-based learning. See how we will ask you in this phase to find a project and employ our four instructional goals–disciplinary, authenticity, collaborative, or iterative–in your evaluation of that student project.
  • We are currently in the “voice and choice” aspect of the project. Realize that this type of work will be much more common next year at the college level. You may also be uncomfortable with this learning position because in our previous AP modes, students were pacing themselves towards a curricular or skill-based acquisition. Now, we are asking you to create flow with our curriculum and that takes time. The more time and energy you invest in this part of the process, the more you will get out of this fun approach to learning. Summoning the Beatles’ Abby Road (50th Anniversary commemorative process right now!) closing song, I would like to suggest that any project where you invest yourself into the learning process will produce personal and profound results. So if we unpack these words from the Beatles’ last recorded collaborative performance, “The End,” we can realize that “love” in this case is what the student experiences when he or she invests “voice and choice” into a topic and hopefully loves the work. This type of love can also mean struggle, because we also struggle with our most meaningful relationships in life. So celebrating the lines, “And in the end, the love you take/Is equal to the love you make” (Abby Road), be mindful moving forward that we will help you find and declare your own (#VoiceandChoice) #PBL topic (aka academic “love”) for our class.

So, as we aim to create a learner-driven classroom, let’s take a moment here to research other models and reflect on what specific aspect of #PBL makes that project soar.

In the comment thread below, please compose 3-5 sentences in Standard English a thoughtful annotation. Explain how the #PBL model you discovered during your research resonates with one as a learner and explain in your own words how the project illuminates one of the instructional goals illuminated by the image and article above. For now, feel free to hone your observations to one aspect of a #PBL learning environment. When you pitch your model to class, we can all have fun wondering about the other dimensions together. Therefore, reflect on how the project that you think effective for us to consider as model displays one of these instructional goals: disciplinary (academic subject, British literature, including postcolonial authors, issues, etc), authentic, iterative, or collaborative. I’m excited for us to consider our collective internet research as it might facilitate a more productive brainstorming process and foster more considerations for each student’s #PBL experience. I’ll make this prose a small “Learning Through Technology” grade event in the gradebook.

About Bill Sullivan

I am an English teacher working with great students at Suffield Academy. I also teach seniors in various project-based learning environments. Some of the #PBL topics included global issues, such as Pandemics, Climate Change, and Water; more recently I have asked students to research and identify topics important to our school community and their generation. We curate these topics with a #StudentCenteredPBL. For the past eleven years, I also created a driving question for a class to research a local history mystery and present their findings in a community program partnering with our local historical society. These topics encompass researching the lives of enslaved individuals who were contributors to the foundation of our community.
This entry was posted in #PennPBL, Project-Based Learning, Reflective Assessment, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Let’s Have Each Student Design a Project in our British Literature Survey

  1. Alana Colaccino says:

    One #PBL example that I found interesting was the idea of app design. The app would have a specific purpose for a specific audience. For our course, it could be an app that categorized Brit Lit by theme and time period, allowing the user to easily find texts relevant to their specifications. This would help our #PBL class with the disciplinary aspect. We would gain a greater understanding of British literature as a whole and make informed decisions using higher-order thinking about things such as the kind of themes to categorize.

  2. Nick Selvitelli says:

    I chose this Project Based Learning model that combines the method of gamification and an English topic by implementing all aspects of a good PBL model. The model touches on the collaborative issue as students must work in teams to create a board game; it also touches on the iterative part of the project as a group can improve their board game mechanics/design with input from the class. The model also touches on the aspect of authenticity as gamification takes the PBL to a new level that engages students to design their own game. The disciplinary element is also shown as students are required to think about how exactly they can fit their project into the board game model.

  3. Caroline Walsh says:

    I read about a Project Based Learning assignment in a high school English class in which the students were asked to create podcasts regarding what they were learning about in class. This project definitely touches upon the authentic part of Project Based Learning, as these students are required to take what they are learning and relate it to the interests of everyday people. Not only are they explaining what they are reading, they are comparing it to everyday life and to current events. It helps the students connect with an audience and make people outside of just their class interested in what they are learning. By modernizing British literature through the creation of podcasts, one can relate more to the literature that they are exploring and understand it in greater depth.

  4. anudaramola says:

    One #PBL example I had was performing passages from one of our Brit Litt texts. Students can learn about different aspects of the stories by understanding them in different dimensions. Being transported from the perspective of the reader to a character within the text can give insights that were initially incomprehensible.

    • anudaramola says:

      With these plays, not only can students be divided into groups, this can even be tackled by the class as a whole.

  5. vartika tiwari says:

    The PBL idea I came across has to do with filming a video, either a documentary or an opinion-based video, for a platform like YouTube or for personal use. I found this idea effective because it adds a visual component to the Brit Lit readings and allows students to be creative in their depiction of events if they choose to do so. Such videos would convey each individual student’s interpretation of the work in a collaborative environment, as varying opinions are common in the world of literature. The ability to come up with a video idea, work together to convey it in a way that pleases each member of the group, and then execute it successfully challenges students to tap into their inner creativity. Adding the reality that they must follow the events of the book correctly, this project combines creativity and logic seamlessly.

  6. Lander A Dalton says:

    The PBL project I have thought about has mostly to do with the development of a play, with which different people are assigned different roles. I appreciate this idea mostly because there would be a high level of engagement and the process would turn the information weve spoken of into a real-world/real-life scenario. The play would have to follow certain rules so that the plot of different stories are not butchered, and the members could write a script in google docs.

    • Allie Mohn says:

      I think plays are a great form of PBL as well, especially since many works of British literature contain dramatic plots with complex characters.

  7. 20ara says:

    A PBL idea that I discovered was the use of a photo essay. In this project, students would target a piece of art or a common theme that they are studying in literature and document pictures that represent the themes they are studying. This project is effective because it can help us further understand Brit Lit and will allow us to express our different perceptions/threshold guardians that we are interested in. Students will have to create a digital photo essay as well as journals. This could include 30-60 second videos as well as multimedia presentations. We will learn how to graphic design and become acquainted with format tools, different software, and multimedia. This project would aid the disciplinary aspect because students will practice gathering and analyzing factual, thematic data while also connecting them to the issues that are interesting to them.

  8. nicolestjacques says:

    A lot of the Project Based Learning models I discovered were primarily focused on the education of a much-younger audience. This got me thinking about the role of educators that we could assume in a classroom outside of our own, such as faculty children or surrounding elementary/middle schools. We could create lesson plans explaining the foundations of the American literature that the children are reading today, such as the Magic Treehouse, connecting it to its Chaucer origins, and more. We could even combine other #PBL models within this method, creating a plethora of techniques to provide education to both ourselves and others.

  9. Aidan Caine says:

    I found this student-made short film/video about Beowulf. It’s a neat idea and I think it could be useful as often times comedy is one of the best ways to get an idea across, especially a complex one. It’s interdisciplinary as it involves film making, music production, and screenwriting. I don’t doubt that the students who made this film will remember the project and, in turn, the story line and main idea of Beowulf.

  10. Sam Manning says:

    Rather than a model, I was drawn into this infographic which represents the different levels of project-based learning. I believe that working down this chart from top to bottom would prove beneficial to creating a true project-based learning and also enhancing the experience. Not only that, but these questions could also help students who are trying to come up with their project idea, as some of these questions may spark interest in students who need it. For those students who already think they have an idea of what their project will look like they can ask themselves these questions to fine-tune their project idea and inspire change as well.

  11. John Cremins says:

    A PBL project I came across involved constructing a digital model of structures within our stories. These models could be easily viewed and manipulated in order to gain a better understanding of the setting of the stories. As the models would be in a digital space, they could be more effectively constructed than physical models, making the project more effective.

  12. aidenmill6 says:

    The PBL model I chose is based off of the idea of effective collaboration and working as a group in order to use a combined creative effort to create something. This project is the result of a group of students coming up with an effective way of reaching their goal, or making the boat float. Then they worked together to come up with an effective design with pool noodles. This project effectively represents the PBL idea of working together and how with combined views it is easier to achieve a goal.

  13. Sohi Shah says:

    I found a project in which students created games for other students in the class to play. I like how this engages problem solving and creativity. This could be applied in our classroom by taking aspects of British literature and turning it into a game. One project could be creating a choose your adventure knight tale. This would help with understanding key themes and motifs of British literature. https://twitter.com/imannaevans/status/1187516407371550720

  14. Allie Mohn says:

    Delving deeper into PBL, I came across an article written by a seventh grade teacher regarding her experience utilizing project based learning. Her philosophy is that when students have more creative control, and “design from the ground up”, they not only showcase themselves, but fortify their learning. After reading A Christmas Carol, her seventh grade class designed an authentic class play. They were required to design the props, costumes, build the set, write the script, as well as raise funds; carrying out these tasks forced the students to think critically about the socio-economic/social justice message of the story. I appreciate the aspect of group work in producing a final product, and that the students developed their understanding of the author’s message and its meaning in the world at large. https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-use-play-project-based-learning

  15. 20ars says:

    In one project I found, students wrote alternative endings to a short story. This PBL model is authentic; it necessitates the understanding of a text while demanding a creative, original ending. This also has a disciplinary aspect to it: we could re-write the end of one of the stories in British literature we have read. This project has the potential to deep-dive into aspects of British culture or postcolonialism, depending on the language of the text. For example, if a student wrote a different ending to Beowulf, to some extent the language of the period and style of the original text could be replicated.

  16. purplemontage says:

    We have been testing our sail boats this week. This group’s boat tipped over on their 1st test. They made some changes and here is video of the 2nd test! #PBL & #STEM gives students the opportunity to fail and not be defeated! These Ss are #Resilient! 👍🏻🤘🏻 #isd31 #STEAMphysics pic.twitter.com/n2R76ylgXe— Casey Reierson (@mr_reierson) October 22, 2019


    • purplemontage says:

      I think the idea of using a hands on activity to explore a subject is a good way for kinetic learners to better grasp course material, as well as introduce new concepts to a classroom that might otherwise might not be conveyed through dictation. An activity such as this one also fulfils the collaboration aspect of PBE because it encourages group work which helps teach lessons about life beyond just the subject material.

  17. justinhern says:

    In this project that I found, students studying Medieval Times were asked to build a model of castle and present it. I think that this is a very good way for the student to learn and demonstrate their knowledge. Not only do they learn about the intricacies of the content through making sure all of the details are correct, but they get to present it to the class and show how much they know about their topic.

  18. 20tw says:

    When I researched about PBL, I wanted to look at projects more based on music or art. Some of the very interesting ones I found on this website include remixing of a song, making a trailer, covering a song, making a graphic novel. I think it makes students more engaged because we are surrounded by music and art all the time. The exposure of lyrics in a song helps students understand in a fun way.

  19. gtosone says:

    I found myself drawn to examples of Project Based Learning that reflected the core concept of authenticity. This is something I strongly value in my life and the key aspect of PBL that I would want to shine through in whatever I end up creating. I browsed through the Twitter hashtag, #PBL, and as I was observing the different ways students embraced this learning style in their prospective schools, I came across an authentic example of a third-grade class who created the project “heart attack”. Each student wrote a positive saying of kindness on a cut-out heart and posted it on a wall in their school. I loved the message and the way the students were able to engage and participate in this project in a way that was authentic to their idea of kindness. This is something I want to do with my project. I want my personal values to be appreciated in my project and I hope to make a positive impact on others like this third-grade class did with their kindness project. I am inspired to achieve great things as I embark on my PBL journey.

  20. 20jp says:

    One interesting PBL project idea I found was making students find a certain excerpt from the Brit lit texts we read so we could help students to understand the overall text better. We could make presentations, do a skit, or connect to a specific idea such as our threshold guardian idea to delve deeper into the text to understand the content and how it relates to our learning goals of British literature.

  21. 20hlw says:

    This project asked students to answer the question “which factors influence where and how people live?” They had to design homes that fit the geographical location paying attention to human and other geographically factors. This is good because students were able to actually do it instead of just hypothesizing about it. A lot of teachers will ask students to come up with their own ideas, but in this #PBL setting, the students can watch their ideas come to life.


  22. michaeladomino13 says:

    This site is riddled with great #PBL learning techniques and project ideas:
    I really liked how they focused on different topics and subjects rather than sticking to one core topic. This is very helpful as it relates to everyone rather than just one group of people or one class. This class isn’t just for project based learning in english but rather being able to apply these core techniques to every subject if possible.

  23. Sam says:


  24. 20vdr says:

    One website I found described the reason and draw to project-based learning by explaining that people are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. PBL gives everyone an opportunity to answer a broad question with something that can be unique and understood differently by each person. It talks more about how PBL keeps students engaged and focused because they are in the driver’s seat. Additionally, I like the technology aspect they discussed, as PBL incorporates modern mediums to perform these tasks.

  25. tommasocalderan says:

    I found a website that describes a union between project based learning and dance, which I is something that I connect with very much. This website talks about how E. Brown teaches how to express learning through the movements of dance. E. Brown uses dance and performance art to explore and solve social problems. I like this idea of learning through dance, because I think that conveying mental thoughts through body movements and music is a challenging and intriguing way to explore PBL.

  26. 20cc19 says:

    One #PBL model I discovered was the idea of acting out scenes of a text. Demonstrating the authentic section of the image above, this project compels students to personally connect with the characters of the story. Assuming a character’s persona forces them to view the story from the character’s perspective, allowing them to better understand the text as a whole. Furthermore, the audience will have a deeper comprehension of the events in the text by seeing a visual presentation of the story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s