When using the Unpack My PBL tool, either to debrief a completed project or to plan a new PBL, consider the following insights from our PBL experts:

Public Product  Public display adds authenticity to the project. Publication may include performance, production of an object, interaction with others or presentation to an audience in person or by other means. When students know their project will have a public component, they are encouraged to produce professional, high quality work for the world to consume. See 3 Tips for Planning Authentic PBL Projects

Questions & Themes  Whether it's called a driving question, an essential question, challenge, prime question, Wild Hog question, focus question or smart question, it is the project's driving force. The driving question can solve a problem, teach others, persuade an audience, tackle a big idea, analyze an issue to form and justify an opinion, make predictions, or take on a fictional role with a defined mission. As important as it is to get this question or statement correctly framed for your project, it is often difficult to formulate. But help is available through numerous resources including: Crafting Driving Questions, Writing Effective Driving Questions and Uncovering Amazing Content Through Inquiry

Project Parameters: Authentic Connections  Although project based learning is usually associated with 'authenticity,' there is not universal agreement on what this means. It has been suggested that "there is a sliding scale of authenticity for projects, which goes from not authentic to somewhat authentic to fully authentic."

On one end of the scale, not authentic is described as having no public audience for students' work, no one actually uses what they create, and the work they do is not what people do in the real world. Somewhat authentic simulates what happens in the world outside of school. For example, students create products that, although they will not actually be used by people in the real world, they are the kinds of products people do use. And on the other end of the scale, fully authentic refers to those projects in which "students are doing work that is real to them, it is authentic to their lives, or the work has a direct impact on, or use in, the real world." For more detail on authenticity, see What Does it Take for a Project to be Authentic?

A member of the National Faculty at BIE suggests, "As you design a project, think about who might benefit from your students’ learning. Try to seek out strategic partnerships that could support your teaching goals and empower students to learn for an authentic purpose."  See 3 Tips for Planning Authentic PBL Projects

Authentic Industries & People: CTEs  Career & Technical Education (CTE) provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners.

During the course of a project, interaction with industries and people involved in those careers and technical fields enhances authenticity of the project.

​​​Within the tool, designate the website to which you've published your work, or choose to publish it here, within the Lounge Repository. Feel free to upload additional materials to further showcase your PBL! You may include images, rubrics and examples of student work. Or provide additional student comments/reflections. All items will be accessible by clicking links beneath your PBL thumbnail, located on your District's dedicated page, always accessible under the Discover tab.

UnPack My PBL is a tool which allows you to "unpack" your completed PBL experiences using eight (8) reflection categories, shown at the right. The tool is free to use! With it, achieve the following objectives:

  • Professional growth from unpacking and reflecting
  • Share your PBLs with a professional learning network
  • Showcase significant work of students, as conducted within a PBL experience

Plan PBLs with the Unpacking tool

​​Public Product

Media Produced

Real World Exploration

Authentic Industries & People

Questions & Themes

Project Parameters

Success Skills

Areas of Knowledge & Understanding

8 Reflection Categories

Insight on Reflection Categories


NOW you are able to zero-in on PBLs with your criteria by clicking the SmartSearch compass:

​​​​You've completed the hard (and hopefully fun) work. Now it's time to look back on the project and consider its ingredients. Access the UnPack My PBL tool to debrief the project experience; this is an excellent opportunity to share with a global audience the work students have done within the PBL, and the results achieved!


( U n p a c k

 M y   P B L )

These criteria allow others to search & find projects, including yours, that best meet their Wants & Needs and levels of importance. 

Stir Up Some Creativity  Developed in cooperation with PBL Coaches, the UNPACK MY PBL tool is a great resource to systematically PLAN MY PBL project as well!

​For easy access, click the green paint can below, and get going on your next PBL!

Click Box to Reflect, Refine, Reinvent

PBL Lounge

Unpack My PBL