Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for extended periods in collaborative groups to investigate and respond to authentic, engaging and complex questions. Teachers become facilitators of the group process.

The effectiveness of PBL over traditional learning methods has been demonstrated via extensive research. It has been shown to be both an effective and enjoyable way to learn – and develops deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career, and civic life.

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning


Picture students collaborating in groups with hands-on learning, while improving social skills. The teacher becomes a facilitator and mentor.


Students become stakeholders. Collaborating versus competing. Extends learning potential beyond individual capabilities.

Active Learning

Learning becomes an ongoing and active endeavor which is not only more fun for the student but creates long-term lasting learning.

Subject Integration

PBL brings subjects and knowledge together, like in life. Students learn to apply knowledge and critical skills in various meaningful, real-world scenarios.

Modern Employment

Students taught through Project Based Learning are better prepared for the rapidly changing 21st century workplace. Today’s success requires more than just basic knowledge and skills. With PBL students learn to take initiative, collaborate in teams, communicate ideas and engage with information technologies, build confidence and solve problems.


Traditional/Heritage Learning

Traditional Education


Imagine the traditional style of a teacher at the front of the class, as the sole provider of information. Student engagement is limited.


Remember those golden stars you used to earn (or yearn for)? This style always awards and encourages the race for the highest marks at any cost.

Rote Learning

The traditional model encourages pure memorization, often by cramming before exams, focusing in short term memory of specialized information.

Subjects Based

Math at 9am, Biology at 10, Chemistry after lunch. Traditional education compartmentalizes subjects, making knowledge meaningless.

Traditional Jobs

The traditional education model has not changed greatly since it was created at the onset of the Industrial Revolution to train a workforce of employees for specific professions. No consideration is given to the concept of entrepreneurial or self-employment.

Example 1: Our Solar System

The activities and tasks included in Our Solar System theme were extremely diverse!

In addition to several science experiments related to the planets and the moon, students worked with a number of resources including websites such as NASA for Kids, books, videos and even songs to learn about the planets and our solar system.

An extensive amount of time was dedicated to an individual project on a planet, in which students developed a deep-thinking, guiding inquiry question; practiced reading nonfiction text features such as tables of content, indexes, glossaries and labelled diagrams; improved on their nonfiction writing skills; synthesized information; took notes; summarized facts and edited their work for content, punctuation and grammar.

In addition to creating a model of their planet, students worked to develop an effective presentation as part of our sharing symposium. This also included public speaking to a larger audience.

The Our Solar System theme also lent itself very well to applying mathematics into context. We calculated the distance of our planet from other planets using addition and subtraction into the millions, including decimal places. We discovered how to calculate the range of a set of numbers when trying to understand how much temperature variation there was on our planet compared to on Earth. By rounding large, unfriendly numbers to make them easier to understand, we were able to share this information as percentages, ratios, proportions and fractions of planets when comparing them to one another. This challenged us to go beyond rote calculating and really pushed us to apply our understanding in context.

  • Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Project-based learning

Example 2: Canada: Then and Now

We started our exploration of “Canada: Then” by looking at how early European settlers transitioned from their country to the frontier, and considered the challenges they would have faced.

To help our students imagine this, we read literature told from the perspective of a young Canadian pioneer child, other nonfiction texts, participated in drama activities, and cooked pioneer food, i.e., traditional European peasant food.

We researched information about the settlements, clothing they would have worn, food they would have eaten and what their daily life would have been like.

All of this was then compared to our current life.

We applied our numeracy skills in context to think about weight of supplies they would have needed and how many kilograms of food they would have needed to survive.

As part of our culminating project, we presented an area of interest to the class.

The latter part of our “Canada: Then” theme focused on the past discriminatory government policies and actions, specifically the residential schools, Japanese internment camps, use of minority groups for physical labour and the expansion of the CPR, and the Chinese Head Tax.

As a whole group, we read the novel “Fatty Legs”, true story of an Inuit girl’s experience in a residential school.

We then went on to read several picture books about residential school, as well as Chinese railway workers, and Japanese internment camps.

We used diary entries, one from a Chinese railway worker in the Canadian west, and a Japanese-Canadian girl from East Vancouver whose family was sent to an internment camp to help us create a short graphic novel depicting the discrimination they would have faced.

This group project required us to collaborate, summarize a story, synthesize our understanding of the problems past immigrants would have faced, take on the perspective of these people through drama, and be able to present our understanding.

WWII Japanese Internment

Project-based learning

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning Project-Based Learning

Chinese & Canadian Railroads

Project-based learning

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning Project-Based Learning

Pear Tree Elementary,
215-2678 West Broadway,
Vancouver, B.C.,
V6K 2G3

© 2021 Pear Tree Elementary