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What is authentic?

posted Sep 23, 2016, 8:11 AM by Michael Reilly   [ updated Sep 23, 2016, 8:15 AM ]
What is authentic, or real, or genuine?  Along the lines of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", we see it as a varying element in our space.  

In CDAT, sometimes an authentic project is just fun, because we spend so much time studying.  Combining science with parody and technology can be genuine good times!  Another authentic thing are the tests kids have to take for local and State.  While you're not supposed to teach to the test, why not?  Test companies make billions of dollars a year with their prep materials, so that's why we have had projects that focus on developing test prep materials that are more enjoyable.  Authentic is the real situation of their world.

But then, what is their world?  In 2010 we did a project about water, because the use of the local Lake Lanier for drinking water was under legal challenge by Alabama and Florida.  We also did a project when students complained about P.E. class as outdated, so they wrote proposals and grants for new facilities, wrapping together their persuasive writing, engineering and math skills.  Most 9th and 10th grade students with us are doing video projects to demonstrate their science, because they NEED to know how to make a good video, it is the primary tool for making your case.  Our 11th graders are doing the "Junior Capstone" which is a year-long project of their choosing, with quality and depth.  Senior Capstone projects are too late for college applications, doing this in 11th is much more authentic.  Our Seniors:  please leave.  We want them to be Dual Enrolled, or in an internship, that first step into their post-secondary life.

We have great relationships with local corporations, our city and more, and are so grateful for these authentic connections.  After years of doing this, we now understand the differentiation in authenticity so much more.  What's real to me is not necessarily real to you, and vice versa.  Choice is real to both of us, so let's focus on that.  Watch for our October projects, you'll see real choice then!