Authentic Project Ideas – What Was This?


One photograph can be the jumping off point for an authentic project. What was this?  Who built it?  When? Why?  What happened to it? (history/research – reading)

Where was this photo taken? (geography) What clues are in the photo to help you figure this out? (botany/geology)

Design and build a model of what you think this structure was. (math)  Creative writing story starter? (writing)…

Authentic Project Ideas – Designing a Better Airplane

IMG_plane 2

Having recently flown on a Dreamliner (and that plane is a dream to fly in) I was thinking about how airplanes, especially the wings, have changed in the last few decades.  Wing-tips were added, and have changed several times. Why?

I thought this might be an interesting authentic investigation and project – doing research on why airplane and airplane wings have changed.  Students could design and present their ideas for improved airplanes.  Older students could focus on aerodynamics and airplane wings, new building materials used for planes, etc.  Younger students could focus on interior changes to the inside of planes.

*I fall into the “younger student” aka “I don’t understand aerodynamics” category!  My plane is going to have wider, more comfortable seats including armrests for each passenger – in coach class!  Only two seats per row on each side, so that you are not climbing over, or being climbed over when someone needs to get up.  Better food, more movies, the Ice Skating Network…

Authentic Teaching – Biographies

Scan 18

Almost every curriculum has a grade level objective of writing a biography.  Writing about a famous person is a great objective, as long as the student is really interested in,  and has a connection to, the person they are researching.  If this isn’t present, it is just another exercise where little to no learning will be internalized.

Writing biographies can easily be incorporated into an authentic project.  For the group of students I worked with who did the year long State Fair Project, we had them write a biography about someone famous from their state. (Definition of “from” included –  born there, lived there, worked there, retired there…) Not only did this tap into their interest about the state they “owned” for the year, it also allowed them a great deal of latitude in picking a person who really interested them.  We even managed to find a subject for a young lady who was determined to research and write about a figure skater – and her state was Florida!  (This was a bit of a stretch, but an Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating from Canada had spent her later years retired in Florida – worked for us!)