“Why do we need to learn this?”
Do you hear this a lot in your high school classrooms? That’s because, according to author of Beat Boredom, Martha Sevetson Rush, high school students demand relevance—they check out if they don’t see the point of what they’re learning—and she believes that there’s no better way to provide relevance than by giving them authentic tasks.
What are authentic tasks?
Authentic tasks are like project-based learning, but—unlike authentic tasks—school projects are not necessarily meaningful in the outside world. For example, students researching the Plague might prepare a poster diagramming the spread of the disease, but only for a classroom audience. Authentic tasks, on the other hand, are work with real-world implications, and they are so immersive that students lose track of time, forget about getting graded, and stop drawing a line between school and fun.
Authentic tasks require students to stand on their own, but they still need support from teachers. The teacher’s role is to create a conducive environment, help students identify appropriate challenges, and provide them with knowledge, tips, and skills.
In chapter 8 of Beat Boredom, Martha goes in-depth as to why authentic tasks work and she gives practical ideas you can use with your students.
Read it here.