How to Find Your Next Project Idea

Planning your next PBL unit? Here are some tips for finding your next project idea.

pieces of paper with notes

Should you start with content standards? Or begin with a great idea that's sure to engage your students? The answer is often "a little bit of both."

The project design process is an opportunity for teachers to make choices and get creative. Here are 5 strategies that have inspired other teachers...

  • 1

    Search the project library.

    Here's one of the fastest ways to get started with PBL planning! Find an idea in our project library. With over 70 standards-aligned ideas, it's easy to search by grade level or subject and find what you're looking for. 

    A few favorite project ideas are: The Hunger Project; Making Space for Change; There's WHAT in My Water?!; and Waiting on the World to Change.

  • 2

    Remodel your own project.

    Take a fresh look at units you've taught in the past, and see how you might remodel them as Project Based Learning. You likely already know the content well, and your past experience tells what was most interesting and engaging for students.

  • 3

    Listen for student ideas.

    lightbulb-ideaStudent questions offer a renewable source of project inspiration! What interests, inspires, or provokes your students? What questions are they asking? Then, look for connections to your learning goals, and start building from there.

  • 4

    Look outside the classroom.

    Think about what's happening in your community or in the headlines. Or consider the books, movies, or music that have students buzzing. Developing a project from news or pop culture is often a pathway to authenticity and engagement.

  • 5

    Respond to real requests.

    Perhaps your students could address a real request from a "client" — like a nonprofit organization, local government agency, business, or even a teacher or classroom in another grade level. This strategy often results in a built-in "audience" at the end of a project, too!

Just as PBL allows for student voice and choice, project planning is an invitation for teachers to make choices and get creative. Designing a project is an opportunity for you to be the architect of your students' learning experience.

As always, remember to keep the Gold Standard Project Design Elements in mind! 


A few favorite projects...


Hunger Project

How can we impact hunger in our community?

More details

Community Voices

How can we use data to tell a local story that will inform and motivate community members to action?

More details

There’s WHAT in My Water?!

How safe is my [water, air, soil, food]?

More details