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Sunday, April 2, 2017

An audience adds authenticity

Another new experiment.

Because this year hasn't been filled with enough of those.

But this one is really essential.

In past years, we have taught a research unit.

And it has always kind of sucked.

I have always wanted to focus on allusions.

Allusions are so important for cultural literacy and literature.

I will also be the first to admit the research project we have been tinkering with based on allusions just isn't very good.

So this year we scrapped it.

We went back to the drawing board.

The first, and probably most important, thing we did was examine our purpose.

What skills are we trying to teach?

What do we want them to know and be able to do?

The answers were pretty straightforward and not unsurprising.

We want students to be able to ascertain the validity of information they encounter.

We want them to be able to locate reliable sources.

In a "post-truth" world, we want them to be well-informed.

As we discussed these goals, we also started brainstorming project ideas.

We decided to have students research various urban legends and modern myths.

We will let them choose which specific stories to investigate.

That wasn't really enough though.

Students need to produce something.

More importantly, they need to produce for someone.

It made sense to have students create "lessons" on the myths they select.

But I still wanted more.

An audience adds authenticity (see what I did there?)

I reached out to my #PLN and voila!

A class of 6th graders in St. Louis was volunteered by their teacher.

Another teacher in Saudi Arabia also expressed interest in participating.

That is the thing that really thrilled me.

When I started sort of "pre-heating" my classes with mentions of the upcoming unit, I definitely included the potential audience.

The idea of a real audience, in a real place, giving real feedback, got everybody's attention.

Motivation like that is a good thing.

Connections across the globe, definitely a good thing.

I'm excited and I'll keep you posted!

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