Project-based learning (PBL) has been around for a very long time and, at this point, there are some high schools in which all their courses center around PBL.
There are many variants of this idea; some are called problem-based learning and others called inquiry-based learning. In a broader view, they are all the same thing: giving students a challenging issue to explore and learning happens as a natural part of the process. The teacher, of course, is instrumental in design and implementation, but if you're just starting out, where do you begin?
The Buck Institute for Education (BIE)
Stop by the bie.org site and get ready for a plethora of resources for PBL. From the bie website:
As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, BIE creates, gathers, and shares high-quality PBL instructional practices and products and provides highly effective services to teachers, schools, and districts.
What you'll find are hundreds of projects, ready-made, that span all subjects from Arts to World Languages. The site is set up nicely in that you can set a series of filters for subject and level of study (elementary to high school), so you can focus in on the appropriate level of project for your students. The projects are further rated as "beginner", "experienced", or "advanced". And the advanced projects are quite thorough and challenging, indeed.
SAS Curriculum Pathways
And here's our other favorite site for PBL resources, SAS Curriculum Pathways. In terms of variety of subjects, it's not quite as diverse as bie in offering projects for Mathematics, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies, but it's still extremely valuable and well worth a look. We use both as our "go to" sites for PBL projects.
Here, too, you can filter by level (kindergarted to high school), as well as filter by Lessons, Tools and Apps, Primary Sources, and Data.
One of the big "selling points" for the site (although all resources are completely free, as with bie) is that you can create folders and group all your PBL resources in that. An access code is generated and you now can have your students get on the site, enter the access code, and begin working on their project, tailor-made by you!
Get Going With PBL
PBL is an extremely engaging way for students to learn and to attain deep learning of a topic. Research has shown over and over that PBL classrooms produce students who do better on assessments than those who don't.