Project Based Awesome: The Visual

A few weeks back, I got inspired to create a visual representation of Project Based Awesome.

I kept thinking to myself, how would PBA look if I were to see a picture or diagram of a Project Based Awesome unit design concept from beginning to end?

What are the driving tenets of PBA and how can those be represented in an image or slide?

Well, here’s the diagram I developed in all its seeming glory.

I wanted to put this on our website in the impulsive way that I tend to act. I was ready. Erin, I said, let’s post this baby so people can see a visual of PBA.

Erin, in her more thoughtful, planned-out way (it’s good to have balance and great partners, people) suggested that instead of just posting it on the website without explanation, we may be better served to link it to a blog post explaining the ins and outs of the diagram and exactly what it represents, and hopefully, in doing so, provide you, our loyal blog readers, a better understanding of exactly what we’re all about here at Project Based Awesome.

So, here’s the visual and the explanation.



Driving Questions are at the center of everything we do. (here's our blog post and podcast episode about DQs) Driving Questions inform our instruction, guide the students’ learning, help us cull and curate topics for discussion and research, and ultimately form the backbone of a PBA unit. Thus, I placed it at the center of all the other things here.

Surrounding the Driving Question are four main aspects of what we consider to be keys of Project Based Awesome unit design:

  • Sound Pedagogical Practice

  • Instructional Technology

  • Inputs

  • Outputs

Click here for our podcast episode about Inputs and Outputs.

Here's our podcast episode about going 1:1 with technology in your classroom, and here's where we talk about how technology figures into a PBA unit.

Unlike other ideas behind learning, we are not specifically focused on instructional technology or project based learning or single learning experiences or single outcomes for students to demonstrate learning.

We believe that the key is to float around in the middle of all of those pieces of sound educational practice. Thus, you’ll see arrows connecting all of those things with one another.

You’ll also notice I added arrows connecting Inputs (the learning experiences we want to marinate our students in) and Outputs (the ways students show their learning). Interestingly, the arrows connecting these two aspects of PBA form a flow, moving in a continuous cycle between the two.

This is because Inputs and Outputs are constant in a Project Based Awesome unit.

This means that we don’t just have the students consume something to learn and then spew out their knowledge at the end, be done with it, and move on.

We encourage a constant process of taking in information through reading, research, discussion, videos, lecture, and activities (digital and analog, long form and short form), and demonstrating their learning and understanding throughout the unit in many of the same ways (digital, analog, long form, short form).

One thing you’ll notice is that even though our unit design is based around the idea and practice of project-based activities, they are not the driver. Project-based activities are a guiding factor in what we do, as are student-centered classrooms and learning activities. Thus, they are on the outside of all the flow chart aspects and not in the middle. 

I hope this visual and post help explain our concept behind Project Based Awesome unit design and clear up any questions you may have in relation to what separates our ideas from some other thoughts on unit design and teaching that are available to you.  

If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact us here and as always, I encourage you to subscribe to our blog so you can get the next episode in your email inbox the minute it’s posted.

As always, until next time, Peace.

chris butlerComment