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Cross-Curricular

Increasing Engagement with Authentic Assignments

Anyone who has spent time in the classroom knows that student motivation and interest often increases exponentially when they are writing or creating for a "real" audience and purpose (other than a grade from the teacher). This is called authenticity, and the principle is very simple. Although you probably won't be able to make every assignment authentic, you will see behavior problems diminish and engagement increase when your students know their work has a "real" purpose and meaning.
A Collection By Amelia Franz
  • 8 Collection Items
  • 8 Collection Items
  • Discussion
Increasing Engagement with Authentic Assignments
  • PBL CONSULTING

    Website
    pblconsulting.org
    pblconsulting.org
    Amelia Franz says:
    One potential problem with public audiences is that it can be difficult to find them outside the school or families of students. This post on a PBL Consulting blog gives criteria for choosing an authentic audience for student projects.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    In this Edview 360 post, a middle school teacher explains the importance of audience/readers to authentic assignments, shares some ideas for finding audiences for your students' work, and describes how much more engaged her students are when their work has a real purpose and audience.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    Nine middle and high school Language Arts teachers define what "authentic writing" means to them, and describe authentic assignments they've given to their students. Interestingly, not all of the assignments described had an audience other than the teacher. I've always thought that writing for a real reader/audience was a necessary part of authentic assignments. Some interesting ideas here, anyway.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    What a great idea! Fifth and Sixth grade students created a YouTube channel and math tutorials for a project-based learning class. This is a wonderful example of a project with a useful, "real world" purpose.
  • bie.org
    bie.org

    Sam Seidel Keeps It Real

    Article
    Amelia Franz says:
    This PBL article summarizes a conference presentation by Sam Seidel, author of Hip Hop Genius. He gives three criteria for making project assignments "real-er." An overlooked benefit of authentic projects, in my opinion, is that they can give students the opportunity to interact with community professionals and learn about adult careers and job duties.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    This is a simple audience feedback form you could distribute to your audience members. You do have to sign up in order to download it, but signup is free.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    Children can make a difference and contribute to real-world issues and problems today, not simply "when [they] grow up," according to this Creative Educator article. It also lists several ideas for local and global audiences for student work.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    Students can record stories of someone explaining his or her American experience (interview), then add photos and writing. They can then upload it to Smithsonian, where anyone can access it. Under "Student Projects," I read "Journey to America," and found it extremely moving. In audio and text (and sometimes through tears), it tells the story of Fidel, a migrant farm worker who left his parents behind in Mexico at age 14. What amazing possibilities!
BloomBoard SparkOther Cross-Curricular
BloomBoard Asks:What authentic projects have you assigned to your students, and did you see an increase in interest, on-task behavior, or motivation when they created work for a real audience other than the teacher or class?