Why Your School Should Promote Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW)

AJ-LC_0087Part of my new job description requires me to support AEA267 schools who implement Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). This summer I began my training to become an AIW Coach and will be certified by the Center for Authentic Intellectual Work.

Although I am far from an expert, opportunities this year have allowed me to grow capacity in the AIW framework, scoring, and effective/sustained implementation. I approach professional development with a practicing educator lens. As a skeptic, obstacles attributed to time, sustainability, and relevance across content and district are my top considerations.

I can firmly say, without hesitation, that I am an advocate for AIW implemented with fidelity as an initiative that provides a framework for improving instruction and assessment. AIW heightens student engagement, sets high expectations for all students, while promoting relevance to life beyond school.

So what is AIW…

In a nutshell, and my own briefly summarized interpretation, AIW is a framework whose universality provides opportunity for educators across all content areas and across all grade spans to bring specific (artifacts): lessons, student work, and instruction to the team (usually 4-6 educators per team) for improvement. The versatility of the scoring rubric provides common language, common goals, and common work done for the benefit of all students. By focusing on the 3 AIW criterion: Construction of Knowledge, Discipline Inquiry, and Value Beyond School; there is increased student engagement, high expectations for all students, and the promotion of skills that will benefit students faced with intellectual challenges in contemporary society.

AIW in Iowa… 

Using the Framework for Authentic Intellectual Work, originally developed by Fred Newmann, Bruce King, and colleagues at the Center for Organization and Restructuring of Schools, University of Wisconsin–Madison, the state of Iowa’s first cohort was in 2007. The mission: “is to fundamentally transform the quality of student learning through teacher professional development by using the AIW  framework to foster deep reflective practice—with profound respect for the work and for the people doing it.” (The Center for AIW)


Rationale from the Center of AIW:

  1. Better preparation for intellectual demands of the workplace, citizenship, and personal affairs.
  2.  Increased opportunities for student engagement in learning.
  3.   Intellectual mission strengthens professional community.

Benefits that I See:

  1.  Honors educators’ content area, knowledge, and grade.
  2.  Provides a common focus and quality conversation for collaborative teams.
  3.  Supports reflective practice.
  4.   Provides insight into student learning and needs – TAG, RTI/MTSS.
  5.   Drives Professional Development, helps to identify needs of staff- Iowa Core, Characteristics of Effective       Instruction, etc.  
  6.  Conceptual Learning, Project Based Learning, and meaningful Technology Integration.      

What’s Next:

With the continued growth of 1:1 schools in the state, and a personal goal of promoting AIW, I plan to write a series of blog posts providing specific examples of technology use to meet the AIW Criteria and Standards at high levels.         

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