You do NOT need to use the curriculum exactly as is.

It is designed to be flexible and to allow creativity and localization to be most effective and engaging for both the teacher and the students.

There are ten units, and approximately 75 hours of instruction. Approximately 35% of that instruction is guided project work. Each of the units covers one of the 2012 National Geography Standards. If needed, Units 1, Units 3-7 and Unit 9 could be used as standalone projects. Other Units build on concepts in the prior unit.

Extended Video for Educators Running Time: 24 minutes

What is the narrative for the zombie story?

The ZBL narrative follows the different stages of the zombie outbreak:

Pre-planning, the outbreak, after the outbreak, survival, resettlement and rebuilding society. Students apply the knowledge and critical thinking that meets geography standards instead of just memorizing maps and capitols. The goal is to practice higher order thinking skills and think like a geographer.


How do I use the graphic novel/comic book?

The graphic novel pushes the textbook out of the classroom. It is designed to engage the students both inside and outside the classroom, while also providing a parallel narrative to the different stages of the zombie outbreak listed above. Please note: this graphic novel is age-appropriate. Unlike other zombie programs, this is not driven by fright or shock. This is not a thrill movie winding the audience up for something to jump out of the dark. The excitement is based on having to face choices in a complicated scenario. The attraction is to take a popular narrative situation and be able to apply your own thinking and make your own calculated decisions.

There are plans for additional issues of the Dead Reckon graphic novel to complete the storyline.


What if my school, district, administrators, or parents have moral or religious objections to the zombie theme?

For schools, districts, and admins who may have objections:

Please emphasize that the zombie apocalypse scenarios are NOT designed to be scary, gory, inspire fear, or instill any sort of spiritual or religious message. Zombies here are merely a storyline narrative that most students are aware of. It’s designed to be more of a “think your way out of a real-life problem” with the threat being zombies—versus military, fantasy (such as wizards or goblins), or violence scenarios. In the graphic novel, none of the zombies are gory, or have hanging body parts or limbs missing. They’re just a little pale, with some splotchy blood on them.

That being said, there still may be moral objections to zombies. In that case, we suggest that you swap out zombies to people with an unknown infection, or germ/biological threat scenario.

Here are some suggestions for parents: Informing Parents about Zombie-Based Learning.


Can it be applied to Common Core?

Some of the skills needed for the geography standards can meet some of the ELA literacy standards such as using evidence, nonfiction texts, and text complexity. Additionally, because it utilizes Project-Based Learning, it also delivers personalized learning as well as communication, collaboration and critical thinking opportunities.


Is this standalone course or supplemental?

ZBL delivers 75 instructional hours, built into 10 units. It can stand alone as a geography course, but is not enough for a full year of coursework. Because these instructional hours are project-based, a more traditional breakdown would be approximately 48 hours of instruction (65%) and 27 hours of guided project work (35%).


Is there a scope and sequence document?

Yes, it is available on this link: Scope and Sequence


What are the 2012 National Geography standards based on?

Topics include: the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical systems, human systems, environment and society. Perfect skill-sets to learn how to avoid zombies!


Is the curriculum research-based?

The curriculum itself has not yet been research tested. ZBL was designed on the principles of Understanding by Design®, which is a trademarked framework owned by ASCD that is currently not research-based. A whitepaper is available here:

Additionally, ZBL utilizes the framework for Project-Based Learning, which offers “forty years of accumulated evidence that the instructional strategies and procedures that make up standards-focused Project Based Learning are effective in building deep content understanding, raising academic achievement and encouraging student motivation to learn”, according to the Buck Institute for Education (BIE).


Can we develop our own curriculum using the ZBL framework?

Absolutely! We are encouraging this to be used as a foundation curriculum. Visit the forums to share the changes you’ve made with other teachers and look for how other teachers have made changes.


How are other schools currently funding ZBL?

Some teachers purchase a subscription out of pocket. Many teachers have their school order the printed books from the publisher.


How are grades measured for ZBL?

Currently ZBL includes rubrics which can be used to measure either standards-based or traditional grading. Projects are graded by rubric on a scale of 1 to 4. A 3 on the scale represents meeting the expectations of standards and a 4 represents exceeding expectations. Standards-aligned grading rubrics are included for every project.


How do you perform assessments (formative, interim, summative) for ZBL?

Each unit includes a simple pre-assessment to gauge students’ current understanding of the concepts. Daily lessons include “exit tickets” as a formative assessment of student learning and to track student preparation for the unit project. Projects serve as the summative performance assessment for each unit. Instead of taking a test, students complete and present a project showing authentic understanding and application of geography skills.


What if my students don’t like zombies?

Zombie-Based Learning is designed to engage even the most-difficult-to-engage students. However, it is for everyone. If the curriculum is pitched in a classroom culture of “this will be great for the energetic boys,” girls will interpret that ZBL is not for them. If it is pitched as “an exciting journey we are all going to take,” all students are more likely to embrace the challenge. This may be unfortunate and anecdotal, but I’ve met far more students who are more uninterested in Geography, than zombies.


My students love it! Where can I share what we’ve done?

Great! Get on the forums and share with other teachers!


Will there be a digital, interactive version?

Possibly! We have plans to convert ZBL into a 100% digital version in the future.


Will there be PD around ZBL?

We currently offer custom Professional Development for schools and districts that are interested. Please contact for more information.