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Authentic Audience

& the Afterlife of Assignments

While increasing student engagement and meeting instructional goals are noble pursuits, when we provide students with an authentic audience we peel off the proverbial chip of paint allowing them to look past the Rita Hayworth poster and go beyond academic learning. Whether you get the reference¹ or not this post is about motivation, supporting our students and opening ourselves up to new things (like the film).

So how can we remedy this…?

Well, one way is to interact with students and allow for thoughtful dialogue with their peers. This interaction, with your guidance, may take the form of effective questioning, providing them with timely feedback, working in small groups, allowing ample time for practice and reflection, etc…
Recently, on a twitter chat with a colleague from another international school, I was made aware of a very sensible platform called QuadBlogging. Other than trying to find words that rhymed with it, I was immediately drawn to the way it connected students. Once signed up, classes and their individual class blogs are grouped into fours, each taking turns to “present” while the other three groups play the role of technical experts and help move ideas along by providing constructive commentary on the first group's writing.

As Grant Wiggins reminds us,

The virtues of having a real or simulated audience for performance are pretty straightforward. The student has much greater clarity about the goal because there is specific audience and purpose - and there's the incentive of - it's not just for the teacher it's for this audience” (2013).

In other words, learning comes from a passion which is born from the engagement of students just like Dewey taught us 100+ years ago.

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