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Authentic Learning to Create 21st Century Learners

gtchat 11012018 Authentic

Authentic learning begins when a student engages because they can see relevance in what they are experiencing in the classroom and beyond. It is participating in meaningful, real-world learning that is in response to active student voice in the process of deciding what they need as an individual to succeed.

Our guest this week was Todd Stanley. Todd is the author (Prufrock Press) of many teacher-education books including Project-Based Learning for Gifted Students: A Handbook for the 21st Century Classroom, When Smart Kids Underachieve in the Classroom: Practical Solutions for Teachers, and his latest, Authentic Learning: Real World Experiences that Build 21st Century Skills. He served as a classroom teacher for 18 years and is currently the gifted services coordinator for Pickerington Local Schools (Ohio) where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

giftED 18 logo

Todd Stanley will also be a speaker at this year’s TAGT Wednesday Institutes prior to their annual conference, giftED18 in Fort Worth, TX, on November 28, 2018. He will present two sessions: Authentic Learning to Create 21st-Century Learners and Project-Based Learning (PBL): A How-To Workshop . Todd will also present three sessions on Thursday, November 29th: Let’s Talk: Project-Based Learning in STEM, The Myths of Gifted Children, and Tired of SMART Goals? Create DUMB Goals to Build 21st-Century Learners. You can register for the giftED18 here.

Authentic learning breaks through the decades of monotonous rote-learning to prepare students to become innovators, critical thinkers and leaders. It benefits all of society by providing future problem solvers who have learned the skills to think, assess, and imagine solutions unknown to us today.

What teaching strategies enable authentic learning? It does not lend itself to the old-time adage – ‘sage on the stage’. Authentic learning should be facilitated; not taught. Authentic learning strategies go by many names today … problem-based, cased-based, portfolio driven, etc. The goal should be to use the strategy most responsive to the student’s individual needs.

Authentic learning promotes critical thinking by pushing beyond content and striving to understand why things are the way they are and how they work. It encourages critical thinking by engaging a student’s curiosity because the learning is relevant to them. It gives them a reason to want to learn. It makes a difference in their lives.

Which 21st century skills have been missed by elevating ‘data and measurable goals’? A good friend of #gtchat once said, “Every time a data-driven decision is made, a fairy dies.” Many may disagree, but the point is that children are more than the data collected about them … and they know it! We should learn from them. Folks in the business community were first to realize that our test-obsessed, only by the numbers education system was missing things like creativity, working together for a common purpose, and being able to adapt to new situations.

Capstones are a good choice to show growth with gifted/high ability students. They are a reflection of growth not captured by standardized testing and an excellent choice for both gifted and high ability students. Capstones provide a vehicle to showcase the cumulative experience of students near the end of their educational experience. They are generally long-term in production and investigative in nature which result in a final product, presentation, or performance. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1 PM NZDT/11 AM AEDT/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, check out our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Authentic Learning: Real-World Experiences That Build 21st-Century Skills (Prufrock)

Todd Stanley – The Gifted Guy (website)

Todd Stanley’s Books

Todd Stanley’s Blog

Higher Level Thinking with Gifted Students with Todd Stanley (YouTube 36:12)

Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview (pdf 2007)

9 Ways To Make Student Work Authentic

Creating Authentic Learning Experiences in the Literacy Classroom

AUS: “Authentic” Learning Experiences: What Does this Mean and Where is the Literacy Learning? (pdf 2009)

Why Authenticity Matters: 5 Ways Authenticity Impacts Student Learning

AUS: Authentic Learning

10 Ways Authentic Learning Is Disrupting Education

The Futures of Learning 3: What Kind of Pedagogies for the 21st Century (pdf 2015)

21st Century Learning: Research, Innovation and Policy (pdf)

CAN: Technologies that Aid Learning Partnerships on Real-World, Authentic Tasks (pdf 2015)

Deepening and Transferring Twenty-first Century Learning through a Lower Secondary Integrated Science Module (pdf)

Allowing Authentic Discovery in the Middle School Classroom

How to Develop an Authentic Enrichment Cluster

Authentic Learning: A Practical Introduction and Guide for Implementation

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Our Kids Don’t Have the Skills They Need for College, Careers, and Citizenship–and What We Can Do About It (bn)

Image courtesy of Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Photo courtesy of Todd Stanley.   Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.


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