What makes a great city?

The first problem based learning project at the European School of Helsinki.

part of plan

second part of plan

The topic for P3/4 in Discovery of the World was ‘My Town’. We decided to start with a long term group project called ‘What makes a great city?’. We wanted the class to practise their teamwork and information presentation skills while working on the  topic objectives.


  • Pupils had 10 lessons to ‘solve’ a multistep problem.​
  • They mind mapped what made a great city.​
  • They designed a map of the city.​
  • They evaluated their own city against the ‘most liveable city’ criteria.​
  • Finally, they amended their city maps using their new knowledge.                          prob based learning

How did the children collaborate and reflect?

  • Worked in mixed level groups throughout multistep problem​
  • Reflection at the end of each step​
  • Asked to think about how effective group working was and how effective the learning methods were


How did we assess learning?

  • Pupils presented their work to the class and talked through the features of their city.​
  • Pupils self assessed their effectiveness as a team.​
  • Pupils reflected on how their experiences helped them develop their new knowledge​
  • Pupils bring together their conclusions to improve future problem solving

Our thoughts and evaluation….

We realised that although children knew what was expected of them in a group setting, they found in difficult to put into practice.

Our future goals…

  • Child led reflection on process​
  • Children to identify strengths of problem based learning​
  • Better evidence of children using PBL learning skills from the start​
  • Children to evidence better levels of learning from PBL​
  • See benefits of PBL and group working in other lessons


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