Authenticity Builds Culture

“I know I’ve developed a good project when I’m as interested in the learning as they are.” This video by Sarah Brown Wessling challenges all of us in every subject to build experiences that engage our kids. The question then is this: Why couldn’t we? What gets in our way, and how do we get past that?


1. Make it doable: Attach meaningful standards to a multi-class experience. When a project can evolve over time, there are more opportunities for teamwork, reflection, and growth.

2. Organize support: Consider the students who will need the most scaffolding. What graphic organizers, reminders, calendars, or other structures will be likely to help them the most?

3. Celebrate progress: Students won’t need to look over their shoulders at what other groups are doing so much if we share good things we’re seeing happening along the way. Plus, who doesn’t like to be encouraged?

4. Live humility: Ask students, “What did you like about this? What would you change?” I find when I have thoroughly planned and fully engaged in real-time discussions with my kids, it’s easier for me to seek their feedback — and they give great ideas!

5. Create an audience: If there is no authentic audience for your project, just brag about your students to others and tell your students about it! If possible, give them a chance to share their own work outside the classroom.


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