5 PBL and the Arts Lesson Ideas

By | 2017-12-09T15:11:11+00:00 September 13th, 2016|

Project based learning is such a comprehensive teaching approach and we often wonder: how do we fit this in?  Fit it in with our content, our curriculum, or our own teaching philosophies.  Our resident PBL and the Arts expert, Brianne Gidcumb, has shared a wealth of resources and ideas for integrating project based learning and the arts over the past several years.  Today, we’re sharing an easy way to pull this all together and take the first step forward.  Here are 5 PBL and the Arts lesson ideas for any classroom!



Each of these lessons contains a connection between one content area and an arts area, as well as the corresponding anchor strand from the National Arts Standards.  Additionally, you’ll find a driving question for each connected area and a project lesson idea you can use to jumpstart your thinking.


Strand: Creating

Driving Question: How can the principle of symmetry influence the creation of an original piece of choreography?

Project Lesson Idea:  Students will work collaboratively to create a dance that effectively demonstrates symmetry, in both locomotor and non-locomotor movements, as individuals, pairs, groups and in forms.


Strand: Producing

Driving Question: How can presenting or sharing media artworks in a public format help a media artist learn and grow?

Project Lesson Idea: Create a media project to accompany a piece of art which incorporate geometric concepts (i.e., Mondrian perimeter vs. area). Record an artist statement, explaining the mathematical process and use the ShowMe app to create a digital display of their creation.

3. MUSIC and E/LA

Strand: Responding

Driving Question: How can we interpret the intent of a piece of music?

Project Lesson Idea: Engage students in a guided listening experience. Have them write a monologue as a “character” from the piece (the composer, the performer, an instrument, etc). Present the monologue to a small group, and journal about the choices they made in their creation.


Strand: Connecting

Driving Question: We usually see theatre represent stories related to people, times, and places. How can theatre be used to communicate a story related to a science- related topic?

Project Lesson Idea: Students research plays and stories related to topics in the sciences. Have students collaboratively choose a topic or assign topics related to a scientific unit of study, and have groups create scripts that tell a story related to that unit of study.


Strand: Presenting

Driving Question: What criteria are considered when selecting work for presentation, a portfolio or a collection?

Project Lesson Idea: Students curate artifacts related to a social studies topic. Include music, visual art, videos, digital media, information about important individuals from the time/culture, and cultural/historical items in their exhibit. Artifacts should be catalogued and given museum tags, and students should be able to act as a docent to visitors.

Hopefully, this chart and examples make the overwhelm with PBL a little bit easier and provide a way to get started with this approach in your own classroom.  Also, be sure to check out the EdCloset online course Project Based Learning in the Arts, which provides templates, sample lessons, and resources to help navigate project based learning through the lens of arts integration.

What are some ways that you current use project based learning in your classroom?  Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan
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