Introduction to Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning (PBL) emphasizes hands-on, inquiry-based experience and collaboration with community partners. Research shows PBL fosters substantial learning gains, a supportive school culture, and the connection between study and the real world. Projects are cross-curricular and presented as real-world problems that include state standards.

For more information on the Project Based Learning, Montessori, and environmental education model that we have created at Greenspire, please refer to the following links:

Project-Based Learning – What it is:

Research and student outcomes on Project-Based Learning

Learning philosophies we embrace


PBL Bootcamp

Voice and Choice

At Greenspire, we allow students to exercise voice and choice throughout all of our projects.  Students are given many opportunities to exercise their own judgement and to make decisions about how to solve problems.  We believe this is a prerequisite for critical thinking and problem-solving. Students have choices for final products and are given an opportunity to reflect on their own growth.


At Greenspire we make group work more than accomplishing a task.  It’s about collaboration that is interactive and innovative.  Students learn to not only take responsibility for themselves, but also for their teammates.  Learning to listen, providing and receiving feedback and understanding commitment are just a few of the life skills learned.

Critique and Revision

Learning happens when students are taught how to give and receive feedback.  Not only does it produce high-quality work, but students also learn the value of improving drafts, which is a lifelong skill.


Instead of spoon feeding students the knowledge for a project, we start with a driving question to begin the inquiry process.  From here, students come up with their “need-to-knows” to answer it.  Lessons are then constructed from these questions.


John Dewey said, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” Reflection is about focusing on the process which involves both content and success skills.

PBL Order of Events

Projects begin with a kick-off event and a driving question.  Students then plan the “need-to-knows” which leads to research and results.  Products are created, critiqued and revised.  The final product comes in the form of a presentation.

Project Examples

History on Stage

History on Stage started as an idea to combine American history events with fairy tales.

View Project

Deadly Water

Students studied the impacts that chemical pollution is having or will have on the Great Lakes, groundwater, Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay, and Kids Creek.

View Project

Mission: Space

Students will use the study of the solar system to imagine humans living throughout the solar system.

View Project