This picture appears to be of flowers, but if you look closely you can see snow out the window.
When we present students with driving questions and prompts, it is surprising how many times students notice the snow in the background and want to frame their project around that.
I taught in Central Florida for several years, and had the opportunity to take field trips to EPCOT at Disney World several times. (It was not exactly a tough day at work.) What fascinated me was how often the kids were enthralled by something other than the actual ride or show. More than once I had to grab a kid by the collar who was leaning over way too far to see what was making the ride move or stay in its lane.
When we finished the ride, the discussion wasn’t about the obvious, it was about the behind the scenes mechanics. How cool was that!
This trip was the culmination of a yearly unit on countries. Each student researched a country, wrote a report, and constructed a diorama. Decades later, I realize that it would have been even better to go to EPCOT first and then have the kids design and build their models. I can’t imagine how far they would have taken the project with the information they gained on the trip. And if their final projects were more about design, motion, and construction, rather than the country they picked to learn about, then the projects would have been less “themed” learning and more “project-based/authentic”
So, while we may be presenting a driving question about flowers, to really be authentic, be willing to go off on a project about snow.
2 thoughts on “Authentic Teaching – Following Student Interest”
Thank you for this idea. I’m going to get tutoring an incoming 8th and 6th grader in Miami this summer. I’m looking forward all kinds of ways to one grate field trips and passion projects into these sessions. Rollercoasters are a super medium. I need to continue to look through your website for ideas linked to the three national parks we will be visiting as well.
Thank you so much! Your comment makes me want to continue to write my blog! Best of luck with all of your projects. Ellie