Beyond Just Reading: Combine Project-Based Learning with Literacy

By integrating reading and writing skills with science and social studies, teachers not only used their time more effectively, but for students the project fostered motivation to read and to write.

– Myla Lee, PBLWorks


PBLWorks put together a resource with innovative and creative ways to weave PBL into literacy programs. Below are a few ideas.

Pair Literacy With Other Core Standards

Many educators are still following the traditional model of teaching reading and writing separately. Yes, each has its own set of content standards, but a closer look at these standards shows natural pairings for integrated study of a genre or topic.

Integrate reading, writing, and social studies into a Project Based Learning unit. This project helps students grow their literacy skills through writing about their social studies understandings.

See additional examples in the Tips section below.

Cover More Than Standards

Literacy standards are important, but sometimes so much emphasis is placed on “covering” them that days get filled with activities. When integrating literacy within a PBL unit, ask the following questions:

1. What key knowledge and understanding of literacy do you want your students to have at the end of this project?
2. What type of literacy thinking do you want to engage your students in throughout the project path?
3. What success skills do you want your students to demonstrate?

Text Selection: Student Voice and Choice

It is important to select texts to support comprehension development. Teachers should do the following:

1. Teach reading comprehension with multiple genres of text
2. Choose texts of high quality with richness and depth of ideas and information
3. Choose texts with word recognition and comprehension difficulty appropriate for the students’ reading ability and the instructional activity
4. Use texts that support the purpose of instruction

Among the high-quality selections, choosing texts that allow students to find their own faces and voices in the pages of the book is valuable.

Scaffolding Reading & Writing

Elementary students have a wide range of reading abilities. To find one book that meets the instructional needs of all students is an obstacle. Differentiating and scaffolding reading and writing becomes necessary in any elementary classroom and in any project.

Read-alouds, scaffolded discussions, guest speakers, hands-on experiences, and field trips are all ways to help the youngest students learn information needed for their research and project.

Digital Resources:

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