One of my regular stumbling blocks when thinking about personalized learning and project-based learning within the context of history is where to find the authenticity. Certainly, one way to keep things authentic in the history classroom is to have students investigate history the way a historian might. That option is frequently available, especially for older students through analyses of primary and secondary sources.
There is nothing wrong with that but sometimes an authentic connection to the past emerges and it gives teachers an opportunity to connect learning to the real world.
Recently an issue emerged right here in Clark County, Washington that could be used to make authentic connections to history: the vandalism of the Jefferson Davis highway marker found at the park built in honor of him. Is vandalism an appropriate response? Should there be a park that commemorates Davis? Why was the park even built here in the first place? What can a concerned citizen do to protect the park or get it removed?
These are all authentic questions that are being discussed in the real world right now. Let’s add student voices to these kinds of authentic debates.