I had a great experience working with this fantastic group of educators in Hong Kong at IB regionals, February 23-26 2019. Prior to the workshop the title of my workshop, “creating authentic units” sparked interest and many asked me so what is an authentic unit anyway? I would respond, I don’t know but I’ll figure it out by tomorrow.
Getting to the “why”
One of our colleagues was working on a unit on persuasive speech. She struggled to come up with the “why” for the unit. I would contend that we want students to know about persuasive speech so that people are protected against being manipulated. If we look at that unit through that lens, it becomes much more powerful. It became much clearer for her.
Getting to the “what”
The why is of critical importance for both the teacher and the students. But of equal importance is the “what”. Teaching and learning through concepts allows that transfer that begins to make the world make sense. We must know what our content is, and how it is used to teach the concepts. I see teachers struggle with this question quite often. So what is our content and where does it come from?
Content: Its what we teach!
Content is the knowledge, skills, attitudes and standards of what we plan to teach. Content can change depending on our diagnostic testing. As we access student’s prior knowledge and prepare them for new learning we are evaluating what it is we are teaching them and through which lens.
Assessment, formative, summative and diagnostic
All roads lead to authentic assessment. We used G.R.A.S.P.S, to begin developing authentic assessment tasks. We looked at diagnostically assessing students. We looked at formative assessment and differentiation. Some common themes came through in terms of what we wanted students to be able to do to show their learning. We determined that authenticity means; connected to something in the real world, is cognitively challenging, is open-ended, is ill-defined, is a performance of understanding task, and is skills based and developed.
What does it mean for you?
Leave a comment as to what an authentic unit means to you!