Students are all types. Some are into reading, others like to analyze and use that to get through literature. Some are college bound and understand the concept of being “well-rounded.” Then there are the others. They may be college-bound, but in science or tech fields. Or they may not be interested in college at all. These students may struggle with engagement in the secondary English classroom. They’re the ones that ask, “When am I going to need this again?”
Oh sure, we can talk about the value of being able to read critically or support your argument. But students can’t always see that those are the core tasks they can use anywhere buried in pages of stuffy old books or tedious essay writings or insipid creative writing. If we’re lucky, they tolerate those things just to get credit and move on.
One way to engage even reluctant learners is through authentic learning– activities clearly based in the real world. Even better if the activity includes student interest. There are many benefits to such authentic real-world-based tasks.
One of my most successful real-world projects is the Company Project (or Build a Business.) Many students can relate to having an idea for a company, product or service. In creating a company for their project, I can harness their interest in this business venture and channel it into authentic, real-world writing tasks.
What sort of writing could a person starting a business use?
- Company History (narrative writing)
- Business Letter (for common communication– plus envelope!)
- Response to a Complaint (also includes complaint letter writing, a useful skill)
- Advertising (a specific form of persuasive writing)
- Script writing (for a commercial)
- Business Card (design and text)
- Poster display (such as might be a conference, convention or expo)
With several distinct and separate parts, the project is quite flexible for different amounts of time or tasks. If time is short, complete the poster showcasing the company only. Or add on the other parts to fill additional time.
I’ve found the combination of high-interest and engaging-activities to make this project fill well just about any time of the year. Use before or around school breaks or other schedule disruptions. Or use after standardized testing for a change of pace.
One of the drawbacks of authentic learning is the process to set up the resources and grading. The Company Project includes all the materials you need to put your students to work creating their own company, and all the related writings. (And you can point out that a small business very well might do all of the different writing tasks when starting out.) Plus, it’s on sale Nov 1 and 2nd to celebrate the blog hop!
Thanks for stopping by on the blog hop! And here’s a free Business Envelope Handout (also included in the Company Project):
(Right click to save the image to your computer)