Hello Everyone!  Not to suggest that many of you have been missing me, but I am back on the blog, after a four month absence, during which my family and I took a “once in a lifetime” trip to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.   As of today, I am officially back at work, as the Head of School here at St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson, Arizona.

Among the mail awaiting me on my return is the new “Unboxed: The Journal of Adult Learning in Schools” from a favorite source,  San Diego’s High Tech High (and its graduate school of education).   Like Tony Wagner, I have written about HTH being among the very most interesting high schools in the US, and its synthesis of intellectualized teaching and true, project based learning make it an outstanding role model for 21st century schooling aspirants everywhere.

Perhaps the best piece in this edition of Unboxed is an article entitled “Keeping it Real,” which describes a teacher’s program linking her classroom to that of an organization in Guatamala.   In the article, Heather Riley cites guidelines from a book I don’t know (and can’t find on Amazon), Real Learning, Real Work. One of my consistent themes on this blog is to strive to make learning real, where students find genuine purpose in the work they do to master a subject, so I find highly valuable these these guidelines for helping teachers check the authenticity of their projects.

  1. The Work has Personal and/or Social Value, Beyond the School Setting.
  2. The Work is Taken Seriously by Adults Engaged in Similar Issues or Work.
  3. Students have Access to Appropriate Technology, Tools, and Materials.
  4. Students See a Reason for What they are Doing Beyond Getting a Grade
  5. The Work is Structured to Emulate High Performance Work Environments

This is a great short article, one which really resonates.  Riley’s discussion of number three, above, explains that “what seems to strike students right away about the project is that the book is really published.”  (A sentiment closely aligned with my own enthusiasm for publishing).   Her discussion of the fifth item also closely parallels my call for greater professionalism in the classroom.