Authentic Resource – The United States Mint

US Coins

https://www.usmint.gov/learn/educators

This site has a wealth of information for children and educators, including games and activities for students, collectors clubs, plans for teachers, the history of coins, and much more!

A fantastic source of authentic ideas for projects and information about coins.

Authentic Project Idea – What Impacts Weather

MegHawaii

The picture at the top of this post and the picture at the bottom of this post were taken on the same day.  And they were both taken on the same island in Hawaii!

How is that possible?  Snow in the tropics?  On the same day the young lady went from short sleeves to a winter coat?  (Hint – she was high up on a mountain at an observatory in the second picture.)

So, what impacts weather?  How many places can you think of where someone could wear a summer outfit and a winter outfit during the same day?  Take the authentic learning experience from here…it may end up being a long authentic project about what impacts the weather or a short authentic research experience about what the young lady is standing inside of in the top picture. Or maybe even a huge authentic project about the Hawaiian Islands.  With authentic learning you never know where you will end up!  Aloha!

MegHawaii2

Fantastic Authentic Resource – Schmidt Ocean Institute

IMG_Ocean

https://schmidtocean.org/education/ocean-education-resources/

The Schmidt Ocean Institute has a wealth of information including lesson plans.  This is a fantastic resource for authentic learning experiences and projects tied into the oceans.  There are also links to other phenomenal resources.  A real treasure chest of information!

 

Authentic Project Idea – Coin Collecting

IMG_Foreign Coins

While searching for information on the United States Mint, I accidentally ended up on a site that sold coins.  (Don’t you love how companies set up domain names with one different letter from another domain, hoping you will type a wrong letter and end up at their site – and maybe not even notice.)  Once I realized I was on the wrong site, I was fascinated by the price of coins.  What makes a coin extra valuable? Some of the current coins were still in circulation, why would anyone pay more for a coin that they could still get for face value in circulation? What is a “proof” coin? Do the pictures a country places on its coins (and/or paper currency) tell you something about that country?

I was then reminded of the coin collection I had as a child, and how much fun it was to collect coins.  I learned so much about geography and was constantly using math without even realizing it.  (Value of foreign currency, exchange rates, saving my allowance to buy a coin I really wanted…)

So many questions, so many possible authentic teaching moments, and maybe even an authentic project…

Great Authentic Resource – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Site

IMG_farm

https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/usda-kids

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this site is a gold mine of information about anything and everything to do with agriculture.  The site has information for students, parents, and teachers.  Animal and plant health, food and nutrition, safety inspections, forest service, conservation…  Definitely worthwhile to check this site out!

Authentic Project Idea – Island Formation

HaleakalaCraterMaui copy

A simple question or picture can lead to a huge project.  My Martian Colony Project (all school year for four years) started with a NASA video.  But authentic teaching doesn’t always lead to a project and that is fine.  Authentic teaching sometimes means a student answers a question and then moves on.  You can’t force that spark of interest that becomes an authentic project.

The above photo is of Haleakala Crater on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.  Research about what caused this crater and how the Hawaiian Islands formed (and are still forming) might lead to a short project, a huge project, or no project at all.  As long as students are researching and learning, that is all that matters.

A really important teaching strategy we learned early in our journey with authentic teaching was not to answer student questions.  If a student asked how the Hawaiian Islands formed, we did not simply give them an answer.  Very little learning takes place when students are simply given answers.  We usually responded with, “That is a great question!  Where do you think we can find information about that?”  We would then guide them to a good starting place for research.  This is one of the most important skills we can give students today.  Students no longer need to memorize facts and answers to questions.  Everything we need to know is literally at our fingertips – on our cell phones!  What students need to know is how to go about finding the information they want and then what they should do with that information.

Where would be a good place to look for information about how the Hawaiian Islands formed?  That is a great question!  Let me know what you find out!  And let me know if this becomes a starting point for an authentic project…

Authentic Project Idea – Mountain Formation

How do Mountains form

I live in the Eastern United States.  My husband is from the Western United States.  He has always laughed at the “hills” we call “mountains” on the east coast.  The mountains out west do put our eastern mountain ranges to shame.

So why are some mountains bigger than others?  How do mountains form?  How do scientists know this?  What kind(s) of scientists study mountain formation?

And this makes me crazy – why do the leaves at the bottom of our local mountains lose their leaves in the fall before the leaves at the top of our mountains?  Isn’t it colder on the top?  Isn’t that why trees lose their leaves?  I think I am going to find out exactly what kind of trees we have that are doing this, do some research, and create a book to explain this! (Yep – I started with a picture of a mountain and now I am writing a book about a specific tree and how and when it loses leaves in the fall – that is called an authentic project!)