Once a student creates work of value for an authentic audience beyond the classroom -- work that is sophisticated, accurate, important and beautiful -- that student is never the same. When you have done quality work, deeper work, you know you are always capable of doing more. ~Ron Berger
Ron Berger is an amazing educator. He used to teach fifth grade in Western Massachusetts, and is now Chief Program Officer at Expeditionary Learning Schools. He wrote two books that we use as a guide for how we teach at Parker: A Culture of Quality and An Ethic of Excellence. I love these books.
I recommend that you read an article he wrote that is part of a series about Deeper Learning in Edutopia, Highlighting Student Work. Ron writes about the exceptional work that is possible for every student to produce. When students have projects with an authentic purpose, that are done for real reasons and audiences beyond the teacher, they can rise to heights they didn't know were possible.
This is what we strive for at Parker. Stream to River in 2-3 and 6-7, the Thesis Project in 8th, and our upcoming hydrogen fuel cell project with local company Plug Power all come to mind. When 6-7's present their persuasive arguments about energy to the executives at Plug Power, their ideas and delivery will matter. High stakes - high expectations - high motivation - high achievement.