Authentic Student Projects

Students learn a lot of content and skills while in school.  The power of teaching is in having them apply these skills in meaningful real world scenarios.

As I prepare to present the Superintendent's Proposed 2018-19 Budget (in January), I realized my document lacked a professional look.   The aesthetics of a significant document is as important as the content within.  I needed help and decided to create a real world project for the students in the graphic design classes at the high school.  They would be the graphics design firm and I would be the potential client that would hire them.

In November, I met with each class giving them an overview of my problem, the project, content and expectations.  During this class, students engaged with me in dialogue and asked clarifying questions.  With an understanding of the task at hand, they started working (individually and in groups) to solve my problem.

In early December, twenty-three design teams made presentations to me (see picture below) in an effort to "market" their concepts.  They shared their designs and philosophies.  Additionally, I asked them critical questions to further explore their thought processes.

Congratulations to Halle Raina for the winning design.

This form of project based learning is essential for students to not only apply learned skills, but to engage in meaningful and real-life scenarios.  In addition to the graphics skills they used, below are some other 21st century skills they utilized.  These are important skills for them to master in order to be successful in a highly competitive and global work force:

  • Problem solving
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Creativity
  • Public speaking
  • Justification


I truly had fun with this project and hope to engage students more in the future.