Authentic Project Idea – The Smart Watch

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With all the fancy Fitbit, Garmin, Google, Amazon, etc., smart watches out there, I thought it might be a cool authentic project for students to design their own devices.

This idea came to me on an airline flight when my husband was obsessing over the fact that his Garmin watch was calculating altitude by air pressure rather than GPS.  As the plane was pressurized (this is a good thing), his watch was reporting altitude by air pressure inside the plane, rather than the altitude the plane was at.  I am sure there are many further examples like this that older students could research, learn about, and maybe even figure out a “fix.”  They could also design their own devices with all the capabilities that they would like.

For younger students this could be more of a fun “imagineering” (thanks Disney for that word) project where they design watches with all of the capabilities that they would want.  They could also research what is available, what they could like to add, and create their dream smart watch. This could also include some authentic practice in telling time.  (Listen for the opportunity and work that skill in.)

*I would like mine to be able to, with the press of a button, bring down the temperature of any room to a lovely 69 degrees!  Oh, and instantly connect to Amazon for shopping. And give me “step” credits for said shopping.  And how about a map directing me to where my favorite television star is hiding (hint – he is Scottish and gorgeous).  And…gosh I may have to do some research and complete this project myself!

Authentic Teaching – Turning a Wait into a Math Lesson

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I was waiting for Metro on a summer day, in a Washington, D.C. station.  The station was hot, crowded, and the trains were running late.  As I stood waiting, I noticed two mothers nearby, both with young sons.  Both children were whining, and my initial reaction was relief that I was not also dealing with a young child in this heat, bad enough I had to stand here and wait myself.  But as I stood watching, I was struck by the different way in which the two mothers were dealing with the wait.

One mother was explaining that the trains were running slow because they were so crowded.  She pointed up at the display that showed the wait for the next train, and started counting down with the numbers on the display.  Her child stopped whining, and became engaged with watching the seconds and minutes count down.  Not only was she teaching her child patience with patience, but she was also developing math skills.

The second mother reacted to her whining child with a swat on the behind, and language that really surprised me. Language not appropriate for sailors in a bar (no offense intended to sailors in bars), and certainly no way to model behavior for a child.  She also threatened to not get him a promised treat later.  His behavior escalated, hers escalated…and I am sure I don’t need to explain the moral of this story.