DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History  book cover
1st Edition

DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History

ISBN 9781138891623
Published August 5, 2015 by Routledge
176 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Are you interested in using Project Based Learning to revamp your lessons, but aren’t sure how to get started? In DIY Project Based Learning in ELA and History, award-winning teacher and Edutopia blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron makes it fun and easy! Project Based Learning encourages students and teachers alike to abandon their dusty textbooks, and instead embrace a form of curriculum design focused on student engagement, innovation, and creative problem-solving. A leading name in this field, Heather Wolpert-Gawron shares some of her most popular units for ELA and Social Studies in this exciting new collection. This book is an essential resource for teachers looking to:

  • Create their own Project Based Learning units.
  • Engage student in their education by grounding lessons in real-world problems and encouraging them to develop creative solutions.
  • Incorporate role-playing into everyday learning.
  • Develop real-world lessons to get students to understand the life-long relevance of what they are learning.
  • Assess multiple skills and subject areas in an integrated way.
  • Collaborate with teachers across subject areas.
  • Test authentic skills and set authentic goals for their students to grow as individuals.

Part I of the book features six full units, complete with student samples, targeted rubrics, a checklist to keep students on track, and even "Homework Hints." Part II is a mix-and-match section of tools you can use to create your own PBL-aligned lessons. The tools are available as eResources on our website,, so you can print and use them in your classroom immediately.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Suzie Boss


Project Based Learning, the Common Core, and the 4Cs

Experts weigh in

The Relationship Between PBL and Teaching Writing

How to Create Your Own PBL Unit Focusing on ELA and/or History

How This Book Is Different From Other PBL Books


CHAPTER 1: THE SUPERHERO UNIT: A unit based on superhero science, science-fiction narratives, and advocacy writing, culminating in an issues-based presentation to the "United Nations"



Step-by-Step Lessons

ELA 1st Quarter Checklist -- Narrative

ELA 2nd Quarter Checklist -- Advocacy

Student Exemplars

CHAPTER 2: THE LIVING MUSEUM UNIT: A unit based on role-play, historical perspectives, and informational writing culminating in a student-created living museum



Step-by-Step Lessons

Student Exemplars

CHAPTER 3: THE MOVIE CRITIC UNIT: A unit based on literary analysis, biography, and film appreciation culminating in a persuasive argument and student-taught lesson



Step-by-Step Lessons

Student Exemplars

CHAPTER 4: THE CAREER QUEST UNIT: A unit based on persuasive cover letters, developing resumes, interview skills, culminating in a school-wide Career Day event



Step-by-Step Lessons

Student Exemplars

CHAPTER 5: THE GRIT AND MOTIVATION UNIT: A unit based on vital academic life skills and persuasive letter writing



Step-by-Step Lessons

Student Exemplars

CHAPTER 6: THE TEACH THEM TO BE TEACHERS UNIT: A unit based on the highest level of communication of all…the ability to teach



Step-by-Step Lessons

Student Exemplars


Bulwur-Lytton Contest Assignment

Hooks for Essays or How to Get a Reader’s Attention

Narrative Outline

Character Traits Chart

Google Advanced Search

6 Steps of Being an Internet Detective

How to Write a Newspaper Article

The Problem Statement

Writing with Numeracy Lesson

Collaboration Constitution Assignment

Online Ethics and Copyright Activity

Understanding Infographics Lesson

Executive Summary Outline

Norms for Backchanneling and using Twitter

Internet Literacy: Verifying the Evidence Lesson

Cornell Notes

Literary Analysis Outline

Oral Presentation Rubric

Cover Letter Outline

How to Conduct an Interview

QRF format

Oral Conference Feedback Sheet

Norms for Video Conferencing

Developing a Student-Created Assessment

How to Annotate Text

Visual Presentation (PowerPoint) Guidelines

Advocacy/Argument Outline


View More



Heather Wolpert-Gawron is an award-winning middle school teacher and a popular blogger through and She has authored two other books with Routledge Eye On Education.


"With her DIY Project Based Learning books, Heather opens up her extensive toolkit and invites fellow teachers to take a look—and borrow liberally. It’s a generous move by a teacher who has worked hard to develop her own, deep understanding of PBL and to design projects that resonate with students."

--From the Foreword by Suzie Boss, Education Consultant and National Faculty Member for the Buck Institute for Education, Portland, Oregon

"When I think of exemplary student-centered teaching, Heather Wolpert-Gawron stands out as a master teacher. In this book, she uniquely and powerfully shares insightful examples and sample units to help others move from inspiration to application. Highly recommended!"

--Cindy Johanson, Executive Director of Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation

"This book is worth your time. Heather Wolpert-Gawron’s conversational writing style and step-by-step guidance take you on a magical journey, energize you, and fill your head with new possibilities. These innovative teaching units, mix-and-match lessons, and ready-to-use tools provide a rich array of material to bring your classroom to life. Heather is a truly talented curriculum designer with a gift for inspiring and connecting with her readers."

--Anne Jolly, PLC Consultant with Learning Forward and author of STEM by Design (Routledge, 2016)