NOTE: You might also be interested in My Best Posts On The Basics Of Small Groups In The Classroom

You might also find my Education Week Teacher post, Response: Do’s and Don’ts for Better Project-Based Learning, useful.

Also: Different Ways Of ‘Learning By Doing’

Q & A Collections: Project-Based Learning is the headline of one of my  Education Week Teacher columns. It contains links to all my posts on Project-Based Learning from the past five years – in one place!


Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas:

Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods is an excellent Edutopia article by Brigid Barron and Linda Darling-Hammond. You can also download an expanded version of their article here.

Why Use Cooperative Learning?

Evidence that PBL Works comes from Edutopia.

Surprise, Surprise! Study Says Cooperative Learning Is More Effective Than Lectures

Cooperative Learning Techniques

The Jigsaw Classroom

An article by Spencer Kagan on using cooperative learning in the ESL classroom.

Unleashing the “Brain Power” of Groups in the Classroom is a great article about the neuroscience of cooperative learning groups. It appears in The Harvard Education Letter.

I write in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work, about how I used problem-based learning in the classroom. It’s very engaging, and very effective on a number of levels.

Apparently, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agrees.

You can now read the list of questions the CIA recommends to use in order to define problems and develop a solution to them.

I think they’re pretty good, and being able to attribute them to the CIA will only make them more attractive to students. I can see giving students the lists and having them pick the ones that they’re most interested in answering.

Watch Problem Based Learning in Action: Apollo 13 is a nice post (and video clip) by Peter Pappas.


Edutopia has some great resources on Project-Based Learning.

The Buck Institute For Education, which has created a number of Project-Based Learning resources that are on list, have recently had Common Craft, the wildly popular animation company, to create a video on PBL. Here is how Buck describes it, and I’ve embedded the video below the explanation. I’m also adding it to the previously mentioned “The Best…” list:

The Buck Institute for Education commissioned the cutting-edge advertising agency, Common Craft, to create a short animated video that explains in clear language the essential elements of Project Based Learning (PBL).

simple video makes the essential elements of PBL come alive and brings to light the 21st Century skills and competencies (collaboration, communication, critical thinking) that will enable K-12 students to be college and work-ready as well as effective members of their communities.


I published a post about a recent study that found that a group of people who had good social skills would outperform a group of individuals with higher native intelligence but fewer interpersonal abilities (see And Is Why We Have To Help Our Students Learn How To Work In Small Groups). NPR ran a more extensive story about the same research. Go to Collaboration Beats Smarts In Group Problem Solving.

I know that some studies have said that three or four students are the best number for student small groups in the classroom. However, I’ve always found that — at least for ninth-graders — working in pairs works best (though sometimes near the end of the school year I’ll have them do a project in three or four after they’ve matured a bit and gained more experience in pair work).

You might also be interested in some past posts about student small groups:

What Do You To Make Sure Small Groups Work Well In Class?

And Is Why We Have To Help Our Students Learn How To Work In Small Groups

Thanks to Sheryl NussbaumBeach, here’s an excellent video describing the steps of problem-based learning.

The Marzano Research Laboratory has released a study on their website that concluded:

on the average, the use of cooperative learning by teachers in the action research studies was associated with a gain in student academic achievement of 30 percentile points over what was expected when teachers did not use cooperative learning.

Not bad…

What Makes A Good Project? is by Gary Stager.

How to Refine Driving Questions for Effective Project-Based Learning
comes from Edutopia.

I’m also adding another post titled How To Write Driving Questions

Don’t Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn is a commentary on research in a college classroom, but it certainly can also pertain to K-12, too.

Problem-Based Learning in K-12 Education: Is It Effective and How Does It Achieve Its Effects? is a new study highlighting the effectiveness of Problem-Based Learning. Unfortunately, the link will only allow you to access the abstract and you have to pay to see the full report.

Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool is an NPR Report about the successes of a professor who has stopped lecturing and, and instead, has begun using small groups. American Radio Works has a more extensive feature on the results.

The Muppets Guide to Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a great post from Michael Milton.

Think-Pair- Variations is from Teacher Cast.

Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? is by Robert Slavin, and provides a good overview of cooperative learning research.

Cooperative Learning Ideas From Nobel Prize Winner Carl Wieman

Getting Started with Project-Based Learning (Hint: Don’t Go Crazy) is by Andrew Miller and appeared in Edutopia.

Practical PBL: Design an Instructional Unit in Seven Phases is from Edutopia.

For Authentic Learning, Start With Real Problems is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Research Supports Collaborative Learning is from Edutopia.

How to Refine Driving Questions for Effective Project-Based Learning is by Andrew Miller at Edutopia.

Why Problem-Based Learning Is Better is by Tim Holt.

Yong Zhao Makes the Case for Creativity is by Suzie Boss.

Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL is from Edutopia.

The Difference Between Projects And Project-Based Learning is from Teach Thought.

Supporting ELLs Through Project-Based Learning is a video from The Teaching Channel:

Personalized PBL: Student-Designed Learning is by Andrew Miller.

What Project-Based Learning Means for Your High School Child is from US News.

A World of Project Ideas (You Can Steal) is by Suzie Boss.


The Power of Collaboration and Active Engagement for ELs is by Judie Haynes.

English Learners and Project-Based Learning is from Ed Week.

Time to Debunk Those PBL Myths is by Suzie Boss at Edutopia.

The Importance of Project Based Teaching is from The Buck Institute, and provides a unique historical perspective on Project-Based Learning.

What the Heck Is Project-Based Learning? is by Heather Wolpert-Gawron.

8 Steps To Design Problem-Based Learning In Your Classroom is from TeachThought.

10 Ready-to-Borrow Project Ideas is by Suzie Boss at Edutopia.

Q & A Collections: Project-Based Learning is my latest Ed Week Teacher column. It brings together all my posts from the past four years on Project-Based Learning – in one place!

“Dreamdo Schools” Is A Platform To Share Project-Based Learning Projects Internationally

New Study Finds Advantages To Collaborative Learning

Good Overview Of Advantages & Disadvantages Of Group Learning

Project Based Learning in the World Language Classroom is from CASLS.

As Project-Based Learning Gains in Popularity, Experts Offer Caution is from EdWeek.

The New Study Headlined “Group Work Harms Memory” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

This Is Interesting: Hattie Says Jigsaw Strategy Hits a Homerun

ESL Jigsaws by Nancy Callan has some great ideas about how to use the jigsaw strategy with ELLs, along with offering excellent materials.

New Study Shows the Impact of PBL on Student Achievement is from Edutopia.


In History Projects, Point of View & Context Matter is a very good piece by Anthony Cody on project-based learning in Social Science classes.

Second Set Partners: A Turn and Talk Strategy is from The Teaching Channel.

New FreeBIE Resource: English Learner Scaffolds for PBL is from The Buck Institute.

New Study Finds A Specific Form Of “Collaboration” Gets The Best Results

The Jigsaw Method Teaching Strategy is from TeachHub.

5 ways to make PBL work in ELL is from SmartBrief.

Your PBL Journey: A Guide for Teachers is a new publication from PBL Works.

10 real-world project examples for PBLL [Project Based Language Learning] is an interesting post from Musicuentos.

How Collaboration Unlocks Learning and Lessens Student Isolation is from MindShift.


3 Common PBL Problems—and Solutions is from Edutopia.

“Doing a Project” vs. Project Based Learning is from PBL Works.

Feeling Stuck? How to Get Started with Your First Project is from PBL Works.

How to Create a Project Based Learning Lesson is from Cult of Pedagogy.


A Simple, Effective Framework for PBL is from Edutopia.

3 Steps to Getting Started With PBL is from Edutopia.

5 Fantastic Ideas for Collaboration Projects is from Cult of Pedagogy.


Think and pair before share: Effects of collaboration on students’ in-class participation is a new study.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.