REALize it! Use Authentic Materials.
This past week, I had a guest lecturer visit my student teachers. He lectured on lesson planning but the last half, he spent outlining some of his great lesson ideas (including the Subservient Chicken!) . As he went through them, I realized a strand that ran through them all – using “real” materials or what we call, “authentic materials”. That was his passion, bringing reality into the artificiality of the classroom.
Authentic materials are great and I think teachers should always filter their lesson plans with the question, “What “real” item could I bring to class to contextualize the lesson topic/theme and bring it to life?”
The things you can use can range from real postcards, catalog, shopping flyers, menus, subway newspapers (free), maps, items from your own household – to online audio/video. In fact, the internet has been a boon to the teacher – allowing them to bring “real” (not made for teaching) materials into their classroom, easily and conveniently.
Please check my presentation for some thoughts and a good overview of the topic.
Here though, I’d like to offer what I wrote on the back of an envelope while listening to the lecture. A handy list linking functions to authentic materials. I hope you will find the list handy and stimulating for your own lesson planning!
Function / Organizing Principle and the Authentic Materials that might be used
Write it! Get some real postcards and send them to epals! Write real letters to the editor or write to retirees in old age homes. Fill in real application forms, bank and credit card applications.
Fill in applications to university and for scholarships.
Watch it! Online cams now stream reliably and bring into our classroom “live” video. Watch puppies or owl chicks being born, look at a Marineland aquarium cam or scan and describe Time Square! I’ve spent a whole lesson watching “random cams”. Ustream offers a wide variety. The possibilities for discussion, learning are endless and breathless. Even the Gulf oil spill cam is possible for classroom use.
If you liked this post, you might like – Using the Guinness World Records Book as curriculum