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Authentic Instruction

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Authentic instruction is a model for high-quality instruction developed by Fred Newmann (1993). It lists five major components of the teaching process:

  1. Higher-order thinking. Higher-order thinking requires students to "manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their meaning and implications, such as when students combine facts and ideas in order to synthesize, generalize, explain, hypothesize, or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation." When students engage in higher-order thinking, they must solve problems and develop new meanings for themselves. There is an element of uncertainty and unpredictability in the process.

  2. Depth of knowledge. Depth of knowledge means that students deal with the significant concepts or central ideas of a discipline. Students use knowledge to understand arguments, solve problems, or construct explanations.

  3. Connectedness to the world beyond the classroom. This third feature of authentic instruction connects the classroom to some "real world public problem" or personal experiences that the student can relate to.

  4. Substantive conversation. This feature involves considerable discussion and interaction about the ideas of a topic that develop and build on ideas presented by others in the conversation. It involves the sharing of ideas and multiple exchanges in which students and other participants develop shared understanding of a theme or topic.

  5. Social support for student achievement. This last feature involves the development of "high expectations, respect, and inclusion of all students in the learning process." Social support is more than token acknowledgement or praise for participation. It occurs when teachers convey high expectations for all students and encourage all students to participate in the learning experience.

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