Project Based Awesome: The Manifesto

Hi there! You’ve landed at Project Based Awesome, and this is our first post! We are super stoked that you’re here - now let’s dive in...

As public school teachers, Chris and I fiercely believe that classroom instruction must be authentic, meaningful, and based in the real world. As English teachers, we believe that there are countless pieces of literature and forms of media that can be the vehicles for this instruction; the world is our oyster, so to speak. And in launching this venture here on the world wide web, we are passionate about making the illusive realm of project-based learning accessible for any teacher. We want the rubber to meet the road.

If you’re new to the idea of project-based learning (a.k.a. PBL), you might wonder what the heck it is. We actually aren’t here to explain the general definition of what the education community understands it to be; others have done that, far more eloquently than we can. (Two of the main sources for general PBL knowledge are the Buck Institute for Education and Edutopia. Check them out.) What we’re here to do is to tell you about our version of PBL, the one that worked for us, that finally made things click in our classrooms in ways they never had before.

But let us give you some backstory. Everyone loves a good backstory, right?

After Chris and I met in the fall of 2013 and started to get to know each other, we discovered that we’d had a lot of similar experiences as English teachers. We’d both tried numerous variations of the strategies and approaches that English teachers get all geeked out over (Nancie Atwell’s reading/writing workshop, anyone?).

But none of them had stuck, for either of us.


Well, one problem was that we both taught in settings that were based on the rigid, 6-period school day. It’s kinda challenging (although certainly not impossible) to re-create the idyllic world of Nancie Atwell’s Center for Teaching and Learning when you have a mere 55 minutes a day with your students (and only 45 on early-release Fridays!).

But even more importantly, these approaches didn’t work for us because we weren’t truly making them our own. We were both stuck trying to be Nancie Atwell, instead of trying to be ourselves and glean the best of the other teachers’ work we encountered.

So here’s where Project Based Awesome comes in (you knew we were gonna get to it eventually). Project Based Awesome is the approach that Chris and I developed, that kind of wraps up all the things we’ve loved about other great English teachers’ approaches and gives them a great big ol’ bear hug. Or smooshes them together into a beautiful stew. Or stirs them together in a melting pot of amazingness. Or something. You get the idea.

And guess what the best part is? We think you can adapt our thing into your own thing that works for you and your students. How awesome is that?

In future posts, we’ll break down the components of our version of PBL and really get into the nitty gritty of them.

For now, make sure you subscribe to our email list, so you’ll know when we publish a new post.

Oh - and check out our Project Based Awesome podcast - you can hear Chris and me actually talking about this journey we’re on, which is fun stuff.


Erin DickeyComment