Project-Based Learning

  • Community Focused. Globally Prepared.

    “What I like most is the creativity. You have a beginning and an end in mind, but the pathway to learn is up to you.”  —Justin, PBLN Student


    Let’s begin with the end in mind:  Current business leaders demand…

    • Lifelong learners
    • Growth mindset & open-mindedness
    • Innovators—creativity
    • Collaborators—strong teamwork skills
    • Effective and appropriate communication skills (written, spoken, and interpersonal)

    Furthermore, our communities and our world need independent thinkers capable of working together to create a better future. Project-Based Learning engages learners in authentic experiences applying what they are learning to real-world situations.  Learners’ interests and curiosity drive the project work, and teacher facilitators provide a safe environment in which our young people can explore solutions, make mistakes, then “fail forward” in order to learn and grow.


    Project Base Learning embraces three key elements that set us apart from traditional teams/schools:

    • Engaging and rigorous instruction based on project- and problem-based learning (PBL and PrBL). Students learn by doing
    • A focus on collaborative culture promoting trust, respect, and responsibility. Our learners are given a level of responsibility similar to what they might experience in a professional workplace.
    • Technology that enhances learning. Smart use of technology supports our innovative approach to instruction and culture.

Project-Based Learning FAQs

  • Do Project-Based Learning Network teams cover the same curriculum as the non-PBL pathway teams?

    Posted by:

    Yes. All West Des Moines Community Schools are accountable to uphold the same Iowa Core standards. Learners in PBLN schools and classrooms will be individually evaluated on the standards as part of each project they complete or problem they solve.

    Comments (-1)
  • Is the PBL Network just for advanced students?

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    Project-based learning can be a powerful tool for all students. Additional classroom support and instruction for PBL Network’s diverse learners come from the Extended Learning Program, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, and the Special Education program. This can help inform grouping considerations and project accommodations, modifications, etc.

    Comments (-1)
  • If a learner doesn’t complete part of a project, how will it impact their team?

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    Grades should reflect the extent to which learners demonstrate mastery of content standards focused on in the project.  Therefore, if a teammate struggles to complete the work necessary to show what they have learned, that individual’s grade will differ from other teammates’ performance.  There are no “group grades”.

    Comments (-1)
  • Can secondary PBLN learners still take electives like a foreign language, music, and art?

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    Junior high PBLN learners are only in the pathway for their core classes: humanities (social studies & English), math, and science. PBLN learners and students in the traditional pathway have lunch and block/elective classes like P.E., band, and Spanish together.

    Starting in 9th grade, learners have access to signing up for PBL and non-PBL at their discretion according to graduation requirements and interests.

    Comments (-1)
  • What about advanced classes and extracurriculars?

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    PBLN learners have the same access to advanced courses and extracurricular activities as all other students.

    Comments (-1)
Last Modified on June 30, 2022