Authentic Challenges

Another full on week at HPSS where I really focused on continuing to make sure the learning was authentic. This was the next step up as I try to continually improve the learning occurring and much of what happened in the week was due to what had occurred the previous week.

The Galileo Educational Network have an awesome inquiry rubric that I regularly refer to. This image below is of the section on Authenticity that I have looked back on whilst reflecting on the weekend:

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

My “Future Tech” Big Projects group have continued to develop as they design and start to build their various projects:

  • School App
  • Health Bot for the planned retirement villages
  • Quadcopter to remind of times as we have no bells
  • QR codes to share geo-located information about the community
  • Ultra-Sound Sensors for residents’ cars as the parking areas are quite tight

All of these projects were suggested and chosen by the students and had to meet the brief of fulfilling a purpose of helping out a sector of our growing community. I really feel these projects have met the accomplished end of the Authenticity rubric and are proving a true challenge in many aspects because of the complex demands. Sourcing parts for a quadcopter, hearing back from busy medical professionals and debugging an ultra sound sensor that was refusing to sense were all parts of the authentic challenges faced last week for these projects.

Wednesday’s authentic challenges were more focused on me and fellow staff rather than students. I have posted before about my lack of stereotypical “manly” making skills so have decided to upskill myself in this area. I do not teach during our Wednesday MyTime (flexi time) so booked into the Workshop License MyTime with Martin. I am learning beside the students as they work on their projects. I have set a target of some items we would like to have at home – a cube for storing board games, a new base for a 2nd hand seat we are doing up etc. – and so am now learning the skills needed to complete these tasks. This involved me learning from both Martin and the students as I spent an awesome 50 minutes in our incredible workshop area.

After this I joined the rest of our Senior and Middle Leaders as we worked with Julia Atkin on refocusing as a leadership team. We started by looking at our results from the section of the Educational Positioning System survey we had undertaken and then focused on how well we are collaborating. Collaboration is a key for us as we redesign the secondary school experience – we are co-teaching, working cooperatively in open learning spaces and collaborating in new forms of teams. It is imperative that this happens effectively if we are to reach our stated vision. So it was a great afternoon working out what effective collaboration means in our context and what our next steps are in working towards that vision.

In Place and Misplace this week we focused on Hobsonville Point as a Place and on developing the students’ mapping skills. This started off with hand drawn maps, then we moved on to investigating online maps. We soon worked out that although Google Maps is the most used, for our developing suburb it is definitely not the most accurate map. The maps below show where we should be and then Google Maps where do not exist:

Open Street Map - we exist

Open Street Map – we exist

Google Maps - we don't exist yet

Google Maps – we don’t exist yet

The students were then set the task of using the Report a Problem link at the bottom right of Google Maps to make the map of Hobsonville Point more accurate. All places that had made their hand drawn maps that were missing from Google were to be reported so that our area can be updated. We look forward to seeing what impact we have – a truly authentic task!

Rover Missions on Thursday afternoon were focusing on their chosen dangerous place. Groups had to draw their chosen place and then draw their initial plan for a robot designed to enter that specific environment. Places included collapsed mines, terrorist bunkers and houses on fire. Cue great excitement for me reading this article on the weekend of an Auckland teenager who has just completed this same task and is up for a major fellowship award for his robot designed to enter collapsed mines!

Friday’s collaborative module with Pete saw us beginning to focus more on the food supply in Hobsonville Point rather than last week’s more general provocations. Initially our plan was to continue with some What If style prompts but the feedback from students was asking when they would get to cook. Instead of asking “What if you could only eat food from Hobsonville Point” and discussing this over various timeframes we decided to set this as a challenge (authentic and in this case particularly responsive to student questions!).

First we asked the What If based on what students would do over a year. Then we asked What if your next meal had to come from Hobsonville Point and you could not spend any $ or break any laws? Students were given 30 minutes to gather food items from the surrounding area and return to our learning space (with the proviso that absolutely no items were to be consumed until we checked them, knowing there are lots of mushrooms in the area). Students were then given extra staples such as flour, sugar, milk etc. and had to plan what they would cook.

This is where the authentic, real world skills kicked in. It was interesting seeing which groups negotiated with others to swap or share ingredients (the meal would be shared after all!) and which could not break out of competition mode. The 2 groups that returned after the 30 minute deadline also had to be allowed to continue in the challenge by the rest of the community. Once again, interesting to see the class negotiate the consequences for this! Once they were underway in the kitchen it was awesome to see collaboration really taking place as groups worked together on their cooking designating tasks within the group but also offering advice to each other. The result was pretty great as seen in the collage below:

Snip20140519_6

 

Vege fritters, fruit juice, soup, apple swan, spaghetti pizza, potato salad, chocolate dessert, chowder and apple toffee all made a great end to the week. The real learning from this will of course be this week when we reflect on the task and think how it could have occurred better. But, a great authentic challenge that truly got students thinking about and experiencing the food supply at Hobsonville Point.

I knew it had been a great week but the Authenticity rubric at the start of this post is even better when used in planning rather than just in reflection. How authentic are the tasks set for your learners?

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5 thoughts on “Authentic Challenges

  1. Pingback: #MustRead Shares (weekly) | it's about learning

  2. Pingback: How Might We encourage young people to stay hopeful, without sweeping hard questions under the carpet? | Steve Mouldey

  3. Pingback: External Critique | Steve Mouldey

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