May 10, 2022
As humans, we love to “strut our stuff” and show what we know. It’s in our nature. As a teacher, the best part of a project is when my students get to do just that. However, there are some methods that are more effective and transformative than others. In my experience, presenting in front of an authentic audience is the most challenging and rewarding method for students.
What Is an Authentic Audience?
According to the Possibilities for Learning, an authentic audience includes “individuals with expertise in, or closely related to, the subject of the students’ product.” An authentic audience can be your classroom, which is a great place to start. And an authentic audience can be expanded to include anyone outside of your classroom. It can include students from another class, another grade, or another school. It can be people in your neighborhood community. It can also include people you’ve never met in-person but whom you have connected with using social media.
My Students Created Their Authentic Audiences
Recently, I posed this Essential Question to my students: “How can we balance the need for resources from the ocean with our ocean impacts?” To begin, they had to identify 10 major pollutants in our oceans and briefly research their impacts. Based on their initial findings, they were required to choose one pollutant on which they would conduct more in depth research and analysis. What was the goal? To create a plan to reduce the impacts of that type of pollution while still allowing for its use.
Through their research, students began to understand how various activities we do on land and in the ocean, such as industrial production, agriculture, aquaculture, and ocean mining, can negatively impact marine environments. Our actions and thirst for consumable resources can have dangerous consequences for our oceans. But many students wanted to focus on impacts in our own backyard—our school.
They took the challenge seriously. Some created social media accounts on TikTok (of course) and Instagram to spread awareness of ocean impacts and propose steps we could take to minimize them. They even took the initiative to tag organizations that were working on these issues already to spread their reach.
A few groups interviewed the cafeteria staff at our school to evaluate the best ways that we could limit our use of plastic containers…