By David Meador / February 05, 2018

Pitsco, your classroom certificate of authenticity

We’ve all seen the signs on various retail outlets: “Authentic Mexican Food” or “Authentic (Insert Team Name) Sports Merchandise.” Perhaps youve purchased something online that came with a certificate of authenticity. No matter how you encounter the word authentic, you have an understanding that the item in question is the real thing.

This is true in education as well. One of the phrases making the rounds in education circles currently is authentic learning. Does this mean that the education that has been going on for decades before this phrase came into being was somehow fake or counterfeit? By no means is that the case.

The term has brought to light the practices that make education authentic. One fortunate aspect of this is that as a teacher who uses Pitsco products or curriculum, you have authentic learning baked into the materials in your classroom.

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First, let’s start by identifying what makes learning authentic. According to Educational Research Newsletter, there are four basic characteristics of learning that make it authentic.

  1. The learning is tied to the real world. Pitsco has always striven to make real-world connections, starting with Modules and now extending into our Expeditions and Missions connections. Students are given problems with real-world applications and questions in the form of Essential Questions that focus the students’ learning on what’s happening outside the classroom.
  2. The learning is open ended. If you’ve used either Expeditions or Missions in your classroom, you probably recognize this characteristic. With open-ended curriculum, students are invited to extend their learning beyond what’s simply contained in the material and extend those learning opportunities to other situations and beyond their time in the classroom.
  3. It’s collaborative in nature. This aspect has always been a part of the Pitsco model of education. It’s students working together in true collaboration to solve problems and develop solutions along the way. The experience of working together toward a common goal and having to practice communication and cooperation in order to achieve common goals is a necessary part of the experience for every student in a Pitsco Expedition or Mission lab. Students are set up for success in the 21st-century workplace by being given the opportunity to practice and develop these skills from such a young age.
  4. It’s student centered and directed. Students make choices. In both Expeditions and Missions, students are given many opportunities to choose which way to direct their learning experience within the curriculum. Students make design decisions for a solution and then pursue the knowledge necessary for them to be able to implement that solution. This provides to learners the motivation to learn.

These four aspects make learning authentic, and as you can see, Pitsco solutions offer you the mechanism to make the learning authentic. Real learning has always taken place in the classroom, but with this approach it’s just easier to recognize those classrooms where it’s happening.

TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, Middle School, Elementary School, Collaborations, Missions, STEM Expeditions, Authentic Learning

David Meador

Written by David Meador

I've been a Curriculum Specialist at Pitsco since 2008, using what I learned in classrooms to create engaging curriculum for students to engage with STEM. I specialize in all areas of science, using my 13 years experience in high school and middle school classrooms teaching: biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, and others.