Project Based Learning in the Classroom in ICELAND

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This course promote active learning and develop 21st century skills through STEAM, design thinking and problem solving activities.

A practical 7 day course that will provide participants with tools they can use in their classroom to increase student inquiry by using project based learning, design thinking and much more!
  • Designed by teachers for teachers.
  • Activities tried, tested and approved by teachers and their children.
  • Methodology renowned internationally.
  • Innovative, effective and motivating!

Today’s world is changing at a fast pace. Technology improves every day and it’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when our youngest students will start their future careers. One of school’s biggest roles is to prepare students for their future. We might be preparing them for jobs that don’t yet exist. So, how do we do that?

We have clues and indicators about what skills will be important in the future that we can use. Those are skills such as active learning, analytical thinking and innovation, critical thinking, complex problem solving and social perceptiveness. This course will provide you with the tools you need to promote those skills with your students. In doing so, you will learn all about project based learning and design thinking and what it looks like in the classroom.


  • Explaining project based learning and design thinking.
  • How to structure a project based learning session.
  • Tackling real world problems.
  • How to maximise student inquiry.
  • How to use design thinking in the classroom.
  • Innovation with design thinking.
  • How STEAM can be used in the classroom.

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.


  • To introduce the ideology behind PROJECT BASED LEARNING and design thinking and observe first-hand how projects are working in local schools in Iceland.
  • To give participants a close-up and personal insight into the Icelandic school system.
  • To learn how to structure project based learning sessions and projects.
  • To provide teaching tools and activities which promote active learning, innovation and analytical thinking.
  • To provide teaching tools and activities which promote critical thinking, complex problem solving and social perceptiveness.
  • To explore the STEAM educational approach in the classroom.
  • To give teachers the opportunity to share successful activities they use in their own school/country so we can learn from each other.
  • To help teachers plan the vision for their PROJECT BASED LEARNING CLASSROOM with time to reflect on their individual schools and plan realistic steps for implementation and success.
  • To have fun, share experiences and learn from like-minded teachers from different countries.
  • To continue growing our network of teachers and schools from all over Europe and beyond!


Thorleifur Örn Gunarsson, or Thor, is an experienced teacher who has worked with children from 2 to 18 years of age in schools and youth projects. He has a B.Ed. degree from University of Iceland in Teaching of Social Studies and a MT in Social Studies from Teachers College Columbia University, New York.

He is currently a secondary school teacher in Langholtsskoli, Reykjavik where he works with his team integrating the subjects of Icelandic language, social studies, natural science and information technology into their curriculum.  In 2020 they received the Icelandic educational award for their outstanding developmental project based learning environment for their students.

Thor integrates subjects in his learning environment to better represent the reality of modern society. Students are encouraged to initiate projects that empower them in their own lives, to start an inquiry on how to take action and make a difference.  They are able expand their creative thinking and explore how technology can be used as a creative tool.

John Deway’s ideas on education heavily influence his teaching – especially his thoughts on how school should reflect the reality of the students’ lives. Project based learning, design thinking, subject integration, MakerSpace and 21st century learning skills are staples in Thor’s teaching. 


This course offers learning opportunities for teachers and school staff across the education sector including: Preschool; Primary; Secondary; Adult education; Special Needs; Teaching assistants; School management; Vocational education; Higher education; and Student teachers.


As part of the course and with your Icelandic hosts, we had the opportunity to visit Icelandic schools at each educational stage. You will witness, first-hand, how Iceland, with only 330,000 inhabitants, produces so many well-known athletes and artists. You will see how outdoors, sport and practical subjects, such as home economics, woodwork and art, are given the same priority as academic subjects at all stages of education.


We also shared good practice during the course so we can learn from each other and find partners for future projects: KA1 projects, job shadowing opportunities and/or KA229 projects.

The docents have introduced the ideology behind STPM project and gave real examples of how the projects behind STPM are working in Icelandic schools. They gave me a first-hand experience and the tools I need to teach academic subjects through play, movement and the senses. I was given the opportunity to share successful play based activities they use in their own school/country so we can learn from each other. I had fun, shared experiences and learned from like-minded teachers from different countries. I am now in the position to start creating a meaningful and long lasting support network with teachers and schools all over Europe.

Kristín Einarsdóttir from Iceland and Sarah Jane Anthony from England combined their programmes and methodology and have thus created a truly exciting and practical course which focused on learning, developing confidence and creativity through play, movement and the senses. The course reflected their philosophy that teachers learn while having fun, sharing ideas and experiences with colleagues from different countries. It was a truly unique, enriching educational course set in a wonderfully inspiring setting.