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If it is authentic I learn and teach better - Passion and authenticity based motivation for students and teachers

Nitzan Resnick — The Sage School - Academic Dean

For the past five years, Sage students are engaged in an interdisciplinary year-long project that focuses on a global timely problem and spans all disciplines — humanities, math, science, engineering and computer science, the arts and foreign languages. After a brief introductory and inspirational period (including field trips and meetings with innovators), students move onto focusing on passion based authentic problems relevant to that year’s theme. They partner with professionals in that field, and then design a solution, experiment, create, build and develop their prototypes.
Samples of umbrella topics were: Redesigning the food experience - partnerships with WikiFoods, Ecovative, Freight Farms. Designing a 21st century innovative refugee camp - partnerships with IKEA Better Shelter Foundation, UNHCR, Refugees Dream Center, and Urban Equity, which included partnerships with SideWalk labs, Harvard Davis Center, Senseable City Lab MIT. Students’ projects are celebrated outside of Sage, at a facility relevant to that year’s umbrella theme, with a large exhibition of students prototypes and experiments, accompanied by an elevator pitches. The event is open to the public and culminates with the audience voting for 5 teams to be “funded” for their innovative ideas. Woking on global timely problems, side by side to professionals brings authenticity into the projects, a sense of excitement to both teachers and students, and plays a role in students motivation and innovation. Although unique to Sage, this project can be replicated to other schools and may spark (like it did at Sage) a shift into more interdisciplinary passion based learning in all grades.

Conversational Practice

After a short presentation, and a conversation, we will dive into planning and designing a model STEAM passion based project. The design will happen on Padlet allowing a full collaboration among the participants. The goal is to allow the participant to experience how authenticity as well as passion based projects can be developed in almost every subject taught.

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