Projects & Activities Tip #4 – Understanding NextLesson’s 8 Key Components for Projects


What makes a great project?

  • Learning should continue through peer feedback and self reflection.
  • Students are always asking “why”, authenticity answers this question.
  • The final product should answer a question originally posed.

Understanding NextLesson’s Key Components for Projects

NextLesson Projects are extended lessons based in real-life situations or simulations, culminating in the creation of a final idea, interpretation or product. They are specifically designed to be ready to use and compatible with implementing PBL in your classroom. NextLesson Projects include 8 Key Components that facilitate an authentic PBL experience, requiring deeper learning and in-depth inquiry while also incorporating student voice and choice, reflection and revision and student collaboration. The 8 Key Components found in every NextLesson Project are:

1- Authenticity

  • Authenticity involves a seamless application of an authentic theme or context through the course of a project.
  • The authenticity of a project could be:
    • an authentic (real-world) context for the project, (a simulation)
    • a final product that someone would actually produce in the real world
    • a real impact on the world or community
    • personal relevance- speaking to a student’s interests, culture or identity
    • inspired by the real world, using real world events or other connections

2- Inquiry

  • Some form of inquiry will be required across the project. This might come from students posing their own questions, gathering their own information or developing solutions to a problem.

3- Student Driven

  • The project will, for the most part, be student driven.
  • Opportunities will be provided for students to express voice and choice in various ways.

4- Driving Question

  • Projects are focused on a clear, central problem, phrased as a driving question.

5- Key Learnings: Understanding & Skills

  • Key knowledge and understanding will be learned through the students’ work on their projects.
  • 21st-century skills will be required: critical thinking/problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration and communication, and/or self-management.
  • Students will be assessed on these two project aspects, as well as the final product itself.

6- Final Product

  • Projects will always end with the production of a final product.
  • The final product will be an authentic application of the context, key learnings and the driving question. Where possible, the final product should be shared beyond the classroom with another class, parents, the community or the public.

7- Critique

  • An opportunity to give and receive feedback through critique will be incorporated.

8- Reflection

  • Thoughtful, comprehensive reflection will take place at the end of the project on both what students have learned and their process.

Note: When applicable, many of these same components can also be found in our shorter Activities.