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Feeding Student Entrepreneurship
January 14, 2016 | Volume 11 | Issue 9
Table of Contents
How to Be Purposeful About Audience
According to veteran PBL teacher Don Wettrick, "Nothing is better than a project that gets community buy-in." He says connecting students with an authentic audience is key to driving engagement and helping students relate what they are learning to the real world: "My top two goals are to help students find great opportunities [for real-world problem solving], and then cheerlead them to a great audience."
At the end of a project, students typically share what they have learned or discovered with an audience. Depending on the project, students might publish their work online, make presentations at a public event, or pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. Once again, the more authentic the audience, the better.
Audience interactions might unfold on YouTube or Twitter, where Wettrick helps students navigate social media and build their digital brand. That's part of a 21st century skillset, too, for aspiring entrepreneurs. Face-to-face interactions are equally important. It's not unusual for Wettrick's high school students to make recommendations to the mayor of their Indiana community. Wettrick says, "There's no more authentic audience than the mayor when it comes to getting things done."
Students benefit from honest critique along with positive attention for their projects. "They don't need to hear, 'Good job!' They're better off when an expert tells them, 'That's not bad, but have you considered this, or you might want to look at that.'" "Oh, boy," Wettrick adds. "When a student gets that kind of response from an expert in a field, that's authentic."
To make these interactions as productive as possible, you may need to prepare audience members for the role they will play. By thinking more critically about audience interactions, you can make the most of this final phase of PBL. As you plan culminating events, consider the following three questions.
What do you want students to gain from the audience interaction?
If it's technical feedback, think about inviting experts for a pitch session or judging panel.
Who's the audience for the "real-world" version?
If students are producing documentaries, plan a red carpet screening event.
How can technology connect students with wider audiences for greater impact?
Some teachers use social media to share their students' work with a larger audience. Using the popular Twitter hashtag #comments4kids, for example, is a quick way to solicit comments for students' blog posts. Quadblogging.net is a free online platform for connecting student bloggers around the world and encouraging them to comment on one another's posts. Youthvoices.net is a curated online site for student publishing.
Creating a project website, publishing online books, or creating a class YouTube channel are more strategies to disseminate student work to a wide audience. English teacher George Mayo curated student work from an ambitious literature and architecture project based on The Catcher in the Rye on a website called Constructing Holden Caulfield. Manor New Tech High School in Manor, Texas, hosts a YouTube channel to showcase videos made by both students and teachers. And students from High Tech High in San Diego, California, have published books that are sold on Amazon.com, including a series of field guides to the urban ecosystem of San Diego Bay (e.g., San Diego Bay: A Call for Conservation).
How might you prepare audience members to take an active role in the event? For example, could you prepare them with sample questions, feedback forms, people's choice ballots, or other prompts? Getting the right people in the room (or virtual space) for the culmination of a project is a great step. Make sure that the audience delivers more than applause (although that's important, too).
Source: From Real-world projects: How do I design relevant and engaging learning experiences? (pp. 37–40), by Suzie Boss, 2015. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
ASCD Express, Vol. 11, No. 9. Copyright 2016 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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