The Cells 'R Us project based learning experience is broken up into two units -- Cells and Organelles and Cell Processes. Instead of teaching all the content and then expecting the students to use it in their projects, I teach the content as the students progress through the project in an attempt to achieve "just-in-time" teaching. This allows me to chunk the lessons in a way that makes sense to the big project without overwhelming the students with information.
The complete sequence of lessons I use is:
In between that sequence, I provide work days so the students can integrate what they have learned into their final project.
The specific lessons that cover the development of the project are:
This first workday takes place after we finish the Organelle Trail, and its purpose is for students to discuss the specifications and constraints of the project (SP1: Ask Questions and Define Problems). Students get access to the project planning sheet, make their own copy and share it with me.
I tell the students that their goal for the day is to make a decision on the attraction they will use for their model, as well as to identify the organelles they will use. Their decision is not "set in stone", since they might change their ideas as we proceed through the rest of the project. However, they must leave the first work day with a somewhat clear plan to develop their model (Team 1 Sample, Team 2 Sample).