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MY Aha! MOMENT WITH AIW

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MY Aha! MOMENT WITH AIW

Dr. Ken Bates, PhD

During my research for my dissertation about the impact of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) on college preparation, I searched for other academic programs that had research to support their value in preparing students for college. The one that I found with most overlap into developing skills that not only prepared students but also connected to the academic subjects in the IBDP was Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW).

To my total surprise, I found AIW was right in my own backyard! It was developed in my home state of Wisconsin at our flagship university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I knew one of its developers, Dr. Bruce King. What made AIW stand out was that it had research results that supported authentic teaching.  This is teaching that encourages students to work with knowledge not just reproduce it. The emphasis is on applying what students learn for life outside of school. Because of this basic philosophy and AIW’s emphasis on teacher training, I believed it matched the International Baccalaureate’s founding principles and included it in my dissertation.

presentation
Bruce King and Laura Lang present with Green Lake colleagues Mary Allen and Cathy Moore at the IB Conference of the Americas, July 2016, Toronto.

My “Aha!” moment came subsequent to a discussion with our principal at Green Lake High School about the challenges of implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) program for all grades in our 4K-12 school district. One challenge was how to improve the quality of instruction on a daily basis. This was a challenge we had faced several years ago, and it was still bugging us. We needed a framework to guide our teachers’ discussions, and build more rigor into daily classes. Based on my research about AIW, I also knew that AIW had shown positive ACT growth in IOWA, which was just another reason to explore its use for our district.

One aspect of the Green Lake School District that is one of its strengths is the buy-in of staff before decisions are made. I shared my “Aha!” moment with the principal and with the IB team, and they affirmed that there was a potential fit for the continuation of implementation of IB at the Green Lake School District and the AIW. I contacted Dr. Bruce King at UW-Madison, and inquired about how we could learn more about AIW. This was just the start of multi-year journey to implement AIW.

Dr. Ken Bates is a retired District Administrator for Green Lake Schools, WI. Green Lake Schools is Wisconsin’s only IB school district. The district has been recognized as an Exemplar by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

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