Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students through Inquiry

Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students through Inquiry

Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students through Inquiry

Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students through Inquiry


How can you create an authentic learning environment--one where students ask questions, do research, and explore subjects that fascinate them--in today's standards-driven atmosphere? Author Larissa Pahomov offers insightful answers based on her experience as a classroom teacher at the Science Leadership Academy--a public high school in Philadelphia that offers a rigorous college-prep curriculum and boasts a 99 percent graduation rate. Pahomov outlines a framework for learning structured around five core values: inquiry, research collaboration, presentation and reflection. for each value, she presents:• a detailed description of how the value can transform classroom practice and how a "digital connection" can enhance its application.• a step-by-step outline for how to implement the value, with examples from teachers in all subject areas.• Solutions to possible challenges and roadblocks that teachers may experience.• Suggestions for how to expand the value beyond the classroom to schoolwide practice.• Anecdotes from students, offering their perspectives on how they experienced the value in the classroom and after graduation.The framework is a guide, not a prescription, and middle and high school teachers--individually or as a team--can use it to structure whatever content and skills their current school or district requires. the book also includes suggestions for how to integrate technology into inquiry-based education, but the principles and approaches it describes can be applied successfully even in places without abundant technology. Both practical and inspiring, Authentic Learning in the Digital Age is an indispensable handbook for reinvigorating teaching and learning in a new era.


What happens when reality exceeds the dream you had?

This book is, in many ways, the answer to that question. In 2005, I was hired by the school district of Philadelphia to work on the school that, in September 2006, opened its doors as the Science Leadership Academy (SLA), an inquiry-driven, project-based high school formed in partnership between the school district and The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia’s famous science and technology museum.

The founding ideas of Science Leadership Academy—the concept that students can ask powerful questions and create meaningful artifacts of their learning in a caring environment—are simple ones, grounded in the work of many educators who have come before us. We have worked to marry those ideas to the promise of the new technologies of our age, along with systems and structures to make it easy for anyone coming into our community—students, teachers, or parents—to ramp up to the kind of learning we value most at SLA.

That basic framework—a few powerful ideas with clear structures for implementation—paired with the truly inspiring goodwill, intelligence, and passion of the many teachers, students, and parents who took on the challenge of building a school together has created a school that matters. As principal and founder of the school, I am awed on a daily basis by the incredible work that is done by the teachers and students who make up our community. The ideas that fly around our classrooms, the amazing projects that students do, and . . .

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