Monday, May 4, 2015

Authentic learning - music to my (their) ears!

In and around educational and instructional technology circles, one of the trendiest terms being talked about is authentic.  We all know what the word means, but does it really make a difference in education?


When learning is authentic, students learn more.  The educational tails trailing "authentic" often include problems, questions, audience, and feedback.

In a musician's world, authentic is normally associated with performing a piece beautifully with the right notes, tone, precision, balance, and emotion for family, friends, and judges (authentic audience).

Now to the reason I wrote this blog.  What I saw this past Friday in L. Michelle Howard's orchestra classroom took authentic to another level!  Watch this video (apologies for sound quality...just imagine my recording sounded great!):

What did you see?  What was authentic?  Well, hopefully you noticed the projection screen and a man named Darol Anger (via Google Hangouts) bobbing along to the beat as the Sperreng Middle School Orchestra performed "La Betaille, A Cajun Waltz" (which translates to "You Little Wild Thing").  

Darol Anger is a composer.  Actually, he is THE composer.   For the remainder of the class period, Darol worked with the orchestra, inspiring them to bring out the Cajun spirit of his work.  He also shared some artistic secrets, including how to make your instrument sound more Cajun and how to let out a good Cajun yell.

The students were enthralled.  Laughing, smiling, and learning.  This was authentic learning at its best.  Students had the most authentic audience and feedback possible.  This kind of experience is usually reserved for professional orchestras.  What a great experience!

If you teach, I hope you are thinking of opportunities for making authentic learning experiences a part of your classroom.  Consider possibilities like Mystery Skype and be ready for our schedule of Summer of 2015 class offerings where authentic learning will be featured.  

Thanks for reading and thank you L. Michelle Howard!

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