Part 2: Ten Reasons for Mapping Out PBL… Scaffolds That Makes Project Based Learning Work

tm1Welcome to part two of mapping a PBL project.   In this series I wish to investigate that “why” and “how” while providing some ideas and resources to support PBL planning. I hope you enjoyed the information on how to scaffold and map a project in the first post. You can read it at this link.  Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL, STEM, tech integration, and a continuing series on Professional Learning Communities!  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 30,000 visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at ( Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

In this post I will share both why mapping in PBL is so important and several template ideas you can use based on the scaffold process I have described in the prior post. I sometimes feel that having a map is the difference between doing a project and doing a PBL Creating a map is the front-loading often described when designing PBL Note that not every lesson or activity needs to be designed or completed.  All the map needs are the titles of these learning activities. Once a map is created the products,  lessons, and assessments are tranfered to a calendar. Educators often ask why they should create a map. I thought I would provide ten reasons below.

Ten Reason for creating a scaffold or map for PBL

  1. Provides the teacher the needed intentional organization to make the PBL happen by providing the students and teachers a road map and sense of direction as they go through the project.
  2. Allows teachers to bring transformative and traditional methods together.
  3. Ensures that the standards are facilitated and assessed through the project.
  4. Facilitates individual assessment in and outside the group.
  5. Allows for proper alignment from the beginning question to the final project answer and assessment.
  6. Provides needed benchmarks for learning opportunities and assessments.
  7. Facilitates the movement of the project in a proper and productive timeline providing students and teachers a sense of direction and purpose.
  8. Encourages teachers with the idea of using prior successful lessons honoring past practice and time spent developing such learning opportunities.
  9. Allows teachers to vet a project ensuring lessons and learning activities contain all steps of Blooms Taxonomy and much of Webb’s Depth of learning, along with the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity).
  10. Allows teachers to use a collaborative document that can be used in both group planning and sharing with others.

I have included a link to a mapping form that I have developed that you can even turn into a Google Form to collaboratively design a PBL with other educators.  You might also want to investigate a powerful template provided at the BUCK Institute (BIE) with  the provided link below.  Refer to the third page of the BIE document.


PBL_mapping_template_2018r_mjgormans – Feel free to use this form (Template) to plan and design a PBL unit. It follows the design technique referred to in the first post. Note that the small letters after the word (Lesson) ask you to vet the lessons in reference to Blooms: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating…  (r…u…a…a…e…c). You should have a nice cross section of Blooms. In that same line you will find;  Blocks ( A1234… B1234… C1234… D1234… E1234… F1234… G1234). This refers to the Block  Indicators I have created to support PBL design. Read the entire series. Once again, the lessons should have a nice cross section of these. Remember that PBL must be built with lessons that allow students to have a diverse collection of learning activities.

PBL Road Map Form (Example) 2018 mjgormans – This file provides a look at what a project map may look like when filled out. This was part of a Rube Goldburg Project that I had done with middle school students.

BIE (Buck Institute) – Learn from some of the various best research and planning resources from an orgaization that is a world leader in PBL I have learned so much from BIE and am honored to be a part of their natonal faculty. Take a look at their resource area for this template called the Student Learning Guide. As you look at page three you will see how this can be used to design a PBL  At another link for resources you will find filled out template examples along with other design resources.

I do hope you have a better idea of what a PBL really looks like through the eyes of a designer. As you get better at PBL you will find that the front loading gets easier and you may increase or decrease the structure I have described. It is fun to watch the students take more and more of the ownership, but always remember that this takes careful facilitation on the sideline by the teacher. As you learn to map out PBL you will discover how it really provides a scaffold for all learners allowing for authentic learning that is based on the standards. Enjoy your trip on the PBL treasure map!

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! – Mike (

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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