Authentic Intellectual Work: Technology Use to Amplify Construction of Knowledge

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AIW: Technology Use within the AIW Framework               Post #2

A subsequent post in relation to Promoting AIW

Criteria 1: Construction of Knowledge

A focus on cognitive complexity, teaching for understanding, which in turn increases intellectual rigor for students. Avoiding mere replication of  given information, Construction of Knowledge in task design and instruction presses students to organize, interpret, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate information addressing concepts, themes, theories, or issues.

Inclusion of technology within educational design provides opportunities, access to tools, and a multitude of resources to aid in students’ own Construction of Knowledge. Traditional recall of information, recitation of definitions and rules, or application of previously learned procedures lacks engagement with the information which is necessary for transformation and meaningful demonstration of learning.  The following lists brief examples followed by tools.

Organize – Example- Identifying Structure of Text: When identifying structure associated with particular genres in literature, students determine qualities particular to each and justify author’s genre choice in relation to intended meaning. Once agreement is achieved on identifiers for specific genres student construct their own knowledge by organizing pieces of texts from a multitude of areas.  Tools: google doc/drawing, padlet, pinterest, instagram, hashtags & twitter, tables,, exploreatree 

Analyze – Example – Research Skills: An essential set of skills students need to master is navigation through the sea of resources available online and how to discern amongst them to identify reliable and relevant resources. After modeling and some practice through gradual release of responsibility, students locate sources and analyze them through a careful lens. Using annotation tools, students are able to identify, analyze, express and justify what make a source reliable and relevant. Bonus, my collection of MLA resources to aid in an activity like this – HERE    Tools: Google Docs, Jing, Diigo, Awesome Screenshot, Sharedcopy

Interpret – Example – Point of View: Identifying point of view from a text, image, video clip, etc. contributes to the understanding of the author’s intended message. Consider the topic of War. When constructing knowledge from a given source, careful readers use a variety of methods to help make sense of the message. Identifying point of view, time, location, etc. paints a clearer picture in the minds of students. Which military side is this vantage point? Is it in the moment or a reflection years later? Is the message from a soldier, General, parent, sibling? A student constructs their own knowledge of a concept or theme by creating a message from a different vantage point than the given piece. Technology provides students many different options to transform and demonstrate their understanding. Videos, cartoons, comics, posters, podcasts, are all options students could use during creation.                       Tools:  Multimedia productions – Youtube, Podcast, (Newspaper maker), Smore, Stripgenerator, iBook Author, Bookemon

Evaluate/synthesize – google presentation, screencast, prezi, powtoon, haiku deck, slide share, blogging

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.