For in-class activities, my students regularly complete "History Labs" in which they conduct research, develop an interpretation, and create a product to share with the class (as a teaching tool) and with the world (via the web.) Students recently created eBooks and documentary videos that we published online. Students used the class iPads to create eBooks on the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment and videos on the revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Students shared these with friends and family and the rest of the world. My students are currently finishing their work on their National History Day projects. History Day also asks students to do original research based on a yearly theme and to be critiqued and judged on their work for continual improvement as they move from classroom to school to county to state to national competitions. Over the past several years, many of my students have made it as far as the state level competition. While doing serious historical research on a topic of their choice, students get the exposure to presenting their findings, defending them, and interacting with professionals in the field. It allows them to do the work of real historians.
Taking opportunities to give students a chance to learn in authentic ways cannot be overestimated. I see vast improvements in my student's engagement and desire to learn more. How do you get your students real-world experiences and authentically engaged inside and outside the classroom?