NextLesson Projects' Key Components

All NextLesson Projects are written to incorporate specific Key Components that we consider crucial to an authentic and high-quality project experience. These Key Components have been carefully developed to ensure our NextLesson Projects are compatible with project-based learning (PBL) by working with teachers and a Buck Institute of Education Faculty Member.

If you would like more information on how to use NextLesson Projects to develop an authentic PBL classroom experience, you can look through our PBL Teacher Guide.

Driving Question

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

Key Learnings: Understanding & Skills

  • Key knowledge and understanding are planned for students’ work on their projects.

  • 21st-century skills will be required: critical thinking/problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and self-management.

  • Students will be assessed on these two project aspects and the final product.

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.


  • Authenticity involves seamlessly applying an authentic theme or context through 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 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 actual world events or other connections.


  • Some form of inquiry will be required across the project. An inquiry might come from students posing questions, gathering information, or developing solutions to problems.


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


  • Each project will include an opportunity to give and receive feedback through critique. 


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

All NextLesson Projects are carefully reviewed to meet as many of these criteria as are appropriate for the particular project.

These components use certain parts of the PBL Design Elements from the Buck Institute of Education.


Need more support or have additional questions about the key components of NextLesson projects? Contact us at

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