Thanks to our IL and friend!

We are now less than one month away from our TLDSB Dragons Den pitches. All 27 groups have finalized their products/business and are continuing to gather research and find ways to improve their products and plans.

However I want to spend a moment talking about one of our adult collaborators (Mr. Peter Yungblut). Last year he assisted us by interviewing parents and students involved in our collaborative learning project.

This year, he has been working hard behind the scenes to gather dragons to listen to our student pitches and ask important questions. The inclusion of local business leaders and educators will provide the students with a real world experience (something we are striving for as educators). Peter’s hard work and dedication to the project is continuing to improve it, He continues to make strong connections with our community and use them to provide all the students with an authentic learning experience. In the beginning our project included 3 schools and over 100 grade 7/8 students. Now it not only includes them but also community members who can bring their expertise and experience to our students. This is what education should be about!!

On behalf of everyone who is involved in the Dragons Den, thank you Peter for being so dedicated to this project, our students and creating a unique learning experience in our board!

mark

Students are too Smart for False Authentic Learning Tasks: I Need Your Help

As the school year comes to an end it is to take stock of the successes, failures, shining moments and heart breaking letdowns. One thing I can honestly say about education is that it is NEVER boring. While students may sometimes feel bored with what they must learn (i.e. polyhedrons) and teachers question what they are forced to teach (making polyhedrons meaningful to a 12 year old???), we do however get to experience authentic learning with our students. 

After spending the past 3 days in Toronto, Ontario with 50 grade 7/8 students I again see what education could be. Interacting with real people outside of our (falsely) insulated classroom walls is critically important. What is a teacher to do? The ridiculous size of the Ontario Curriculum Documents precludes most teachers from taking the time to provide their students with real life learning. Unfortunately we have tricked ourselves into thinking that authentic learning tasks are ones which mirror real life situations. 

The reality is that students are too smart to be tricked into fully engaging in tasks that are simply fake. Yes they may mirror real world situations but they are NOT REAL. Do we as adults give our best effort when engaged in meetings and situations that are not real? It takes more time, effort, creativity, money, and technology to provide REAL AUTHENTIC LEARNING TASKS for students. It also takes less curriculum being forced upon educators from above, less bureaucracy (hoops) for educators to jump through, and less time spent justifying that I am doing my job and more time spent on actually doing my job.

Next year…I want my students too feel that what they spent their time, energy and effort on was real, and not something I as an educator have developed to resemble the real world. 

This may only be a dream, but it is mine.

It may end up being yet another false authentic learning task, but I don’t want it to be.

If you have any real authentic learning tasks that you have completed with your students I would love to hear about them. I am looking for creative, interesting ideas I can try and share with others.

Happy teaching