Authentic Project Idea – Trees as Gifts

Washington Monument

Why did the Japanese give Cherry Blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C.?

What is the story behind the gift?  Do the trees represent something?  Are Cherry Blossom trees well suited for the D.C. climate, was that why they were chosen?

What tree would be a good gift from one country to another?  Have other countries received trees as gifts? What kind of tree would make a good gift for a special birthday?  Why is a tree a good gift?  How can you gift a tree to someone?

So many questions that might lead to an authentic project.  And if you end up the proud owner of a special tree in a big pot in your home, or in your yard, you can thank me later!

Authentic Project Idea – Fallingwater

Fallingwater copy

Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the most iconic homes of the 20th century.  Wright’s use of surrounding landscape in design was way ahead of his time. His designs were inspirational, amazing, and stunningly beautiful.

The family that owned Fallingwater originally wanted the home to sit on land with a view of the waterfall that was on their property.  Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home to sit on top of the waterfall.

There are so many authentic projects that Fallingwater could inspire.  A biography and study of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs would be a fascinating project.  Designing and even building a model influenced by his structures would be another fantastic project.

This one really has me intrigued.  I would love to see reports about/photos of authentic projects that might spring from a study of Frank Lloyd Wright and/or Fallingwater!

*Fallingwater is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit!

Authentic Project Idea – The Ukulele…Maybe

Ukulele

I recently ate at a restaurant which was decorated with ukuleles.  I really know very little about ukuleles. Where were they invented?  Where are they popular? What is the difference between a ukulele and a guitar? Do they tend to be played for a specific kind of music?

Projects could include a timeline history of the ukulele.  Perhaps comparing and contrasting string instruments.  Building a string instrument.  Learning to play a string instrument.  Writing music for a string instrument.  Performing on a string instrument.  Researching the history of the flute – remember for true authentic learning, the project is driven by student interest.  If your student is not interested in ukuleles, this can be a jumping off point for another musical instrument.  If this leads to a discussion about marching bands, which leads to a discussion about football, which leads to a project about football…that is authentic learning!

Authentic Project Idea – Monuments

Lincoln Memorial

I live about four hours from Washington, D.C.  The city is full of wonderful monuments for just about anything and everything.  Some are fascinating, some are informative, some entertaining, and many extremely solemn.

Behind every monument is a story.  I have had the privilege to travel and visit many countries, and the one thing that all countries have are monuments.  And every monument tells a story.

Monuments could definitely inspire an authentic project.  A monument might inspire a student to research more about the person or event that the monument honors.  It might inspire a project about constructing monuments.  Or it might inspire a student created monument to a person or event that a student wishes to honor.  Lots of jumping off points.

*If you look closely at the picture of the Washington Monument at the bottom of this blog, you will notice the color of the stone changes about one-third of the way up…Why?  Interesting authentic story to research…

Scan 8 copy

Authentic Project Idea – Waste Management

ToxicWasteQuiltQuilt by Chris Staver

As I have often mentioned in my blog, so many different things can inspire an authentic project.  A girlfriend of mine creates amazing quilts.  I call what she does “painting with fabric.”   I was at a museum exhibition of her work recently.  Several of her quilts have environmental themes.  One of her quilts depicts toxic waste drums. (Unusual for a quilt, and absolutely incredible work!)  This got me thinking about waste management.

We produce so much waste on our planet that we need to dispose of.  There are several ways a project could look at this issue.  Ideas about how to produce less waste.  Recycling ideas, disposal ideas…

The important thing to remember when teaching authentically is the starting point is just that, a starting point.  If somehow this project turns into recycling old cookbooks, which results in the use of, or the improvement of, an old recipe…that is exactly what authentic teaching and learning is.  The goal is for the student to read, write, use math, investigate, produce…

When students are engaged, they learn!

Authentic Project Idea – Donuts

DonutHoles

Who invented the donut?  Why do donuts have holes?  How do you make donuts?

Authentic projects often start with a few simple questions and end with a student developed recipe for delicious tasting zero calorie donuts! ( My blog…my fantasy!)

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