PBLish – Using Project-Based Learning Design Concepts to Scaffold Inquiry

From middle to upper/high school, including IBDP and AP courses, the elements of “Gold Standard” PBL can be leveraged to design real, relevant, rigorous inquiry that engages all students. Bring some standards or learning outcomes and an inquiring mind of your own to this workshop, and we will dive into design using PBL and concept-based approaches to build a unit of study for each participant. No fuss, no dogma, just a reasonably challenging design process with support awaits!

Lots of PBL hashtags! Just kidding. Designing concept-based inquiry is a real stretch for many educators, yet the IB has made major moves in this direction, and PBL remains a durable buzzword that is broadly misunderstood (in my humble opinion). Also, this is about learning by purposeful, intentional, facilitated doing, which teachers usually like, even when it’s hard.


  • Participants will design parts of a PBL unit, including assessments.
  • Participants explore a process for “unpacking” standards or learning outcomes, writing generalizations/enduring understandings, and crafting a central driving question..

About Ian

Ian is an experienced teacher of the humanities from middle to high school, including both AP English courses, AP Seminar, and IB English Language & Literature. Throughout all levels, Ian has used project-based learning design principles because they help create the optimal conditions for authentic inquiry and growth. Currently, Ian leads his amazing colleagues in reimagining their curriculum through concept-based curriculum & instruction design processes as Zurich International School’s Middle & Upper School Learning Leader.

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