Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Decide on your challenging problem or question

As a class or interested group of students brainstorm issues that you’d like to address. What are ways you can help out in your community?

Example: What is pet overpopulation and what can we do about it?

Step 2: Research/Inquiry

After you’ve selected your central problem or question, have student come up with deeper questions to help with the inquiry process. After a brainstorming session, students can begin to research answers through books, the internet, field-based interviews with experts, service providers and others impacted by the challenge or problem.

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Example:  Pet Overpopulation

What is pet overpopulation?

Why is it a big problem?

Who does it impact?

What is being done about it in my community?

What is being done about it in other communities?

Keep these driving questions close by and refer to them throughout the inquiry process.

Step 3: Choose a Direction

How would you like to address your problem or challenge?  What way(s) could your class make a difference? Brainstorm ideas and as a class or a group, pick which project you’d like to do. Click here for project ideas.

Example: Ways to help with pet overpopulation

Make pamphlets or posters on the importance of spay/neuter for the school & community

Raise funds for the local shelter that helps unwanted pets

Write letters to local government to create or amend animal bylaws in your community

…then pick a project!

Step 4: Define Project Goals & Identify Needs and Challenges.

Take time to describe your project and outline the project goals (so that all group members are on the same page). Next, create a list of what is needed for the project. Think about things such as expenses, materials, expert advice and adult help. Then list all the challenges or barriers that might delay the project or prevent it from being a success.

Defining goals: Activity Sheet

Example: Create posters for school & community on the importance of spay /neuter.  

Needs Challenges
factual information for  poster making sure poster has up-to-date and correct  information
eye catching design finding adult volunteers willing to help
paper speaking with businesses/groups in the  community to help promote your message.
 volunteers to distribute poster

Step 5: Put Your Goal into Action

Make a list of all the tasks that need to be done to reach your goal. Then list who will be in charge of each task and make sure to include timelines so that the project keeps moving forward. Try to address all the needs and challenges you identified in Step 4.

Putting Goals into Action: Activity Sheet

Example: Create posters to educate school and community on the importance of spay and neuter

Task Date to be completed Person(s) Responsible
 Contact an expert for advice
(ie:someone from a local SPCA/humane society)
 March 1  Amar
 Create an eye-catching poster  March 5  Jessica & Jullian

Step 6: Public Project Unveiling

Upon culmination of your project, show it to the public! This could include displaying posters in the school and community or a presentation at an assembly with invited guests. By creating a public product, students are often more motivated to produce high quality work and adds authenticity to project. Take pictures along the way to include in the school newsletter or website and send some to the Alberta SPCA to be including with your mark on the Kindness Map.

Step 7: Reflection

Reflection prompts critical thinking, self analysis and solidifies what it is that we’ve learned and how it can apply to other situations. Reflection should be an explicit part of the project and can occur informally throughout the learning process.

For reflection prompts and questions download our 
Reflection Activity Sheet

Be sure to tell us about your project to get on the Kindness Map!


Notes for the teacher:

Before embarking on this project identify areas of the curriculum that this project will incorporate. There will likely be many – so focus on a select few that you can assess along the way.

For more information or guidance on project-based learning visit the Buck Institute for Education website.