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Authentic Classroom Activities


One of the surest ways to motivate students to not only write, but to write with passion, purpose and power, is to make sure they have an authentic audience. Jill E. Thomas



The following ideas are from teachers who have created within their classrooms the kinds of literacy contexts that require students to engage in authentic reading, writing and producing. Each of these projects is built around a real purpose that is relevant to the students.


Create Brochures

In a Cycle 1 Immersion class, Mme Brand tells her students that she is fed up with winter and wants to go somewhere hot for the spring break.

She asks for their help.

The students pour over brochures she has brought in looking at the way they are put together, the kind of writing that is used, and how the visuals and text work together.

They talk about the purpose for brochures and why people read and produce them. 

Each student selects a destination and produces a bilingual brochure. 

The brochures are displayed for others to read. 

Prepare for Games Day

In Catherine Goodwin’s Cycle 1 class, students work together to create original games for their classroom ’Games Day’. Students learn how to use graphic organizers, write instructions, and create posters to advertise the event. 


Create a School-Wide Project

At a small elementary school in downtown Montreal, teachers were able to spark school-wide interest by connecting learning to a project that was relevant to the students.

The Park Project was developed in conjunction with the renovation of a small, neglected park adjacent to the school building. 

Students in each cycle worked with their teachers to decide on the kind of input they wanted to have, and the best way to communicate this to the city.

  • Cycle 1 students decided to draw pictures of the park they wanted.
  • Cycle 2 students interviewed the workers, made more detailed plans of ideas for the park, and created a powerpoint to present these ideas.
  • Cycle 3 students, skeptical that the new park would be kept any better than the old park, researched ways that people can effect change. After exploring how the structures and features of public service announcements make them an effective means of persuasion, they worked in small groups to produce their own video clips. During this project, the students used writing to record their brainstorming ideas, make lists of props, write release forms for the actors, and create storyboards to help with the filming of the PSA. See Help Keep Our Parks Safe.


Tell the Story of Your Community with Words and Photography

Students around Quebec, from elementary to the end of secondary, capture the community in which they live and work in photographs and words, for a real audience that they are unlikely to meet in any other way.

During the course of this project they decide:

  • how to show the stories, histories, celebrations and landmarks of their community in photos
  • the most effective or powerful type of writing to go with the photos e.g. poetry, prose, 1st person, captions, etc.
"Quebec Roots: The Place Where I Live" is a community-based project supported by Blue Metropolis Foundation and DFGJ-MELs. A short documentary video of the project describes the process and the power of this project. Individual classes can use the same process on a smaller scale to provide an authentic context for writing and producing.

See ABCity for the simple classroom project that led to Quebec Roots. 


Make a Book Trailer

See How To Make A Book Trailer on Prezi.

Book trailers are similar to movie trailers, in that they are designed to promote a book or a movie to a target audience. The primary difference between the two is that a movie trailer uses existing footage from the actual movie, whereas a book trailer must convert the theme or message of the book into images. The key is to convey a sense of what the book is about without giving anything away, since a successful book trailer should motivate its audience to read the book in question. Book trailers can include a range of techniques, from authors reading a passage to a monologue by a main character to the depiction of key scenes from the narrative. The length of an average book trailer runs anywhere from 30 seconds to about one minute. Video, animation or photos are used in book trailers. If students want to include music in their book trailer it must be copyright free.


Additional Resources

Check out the projects in Into the Classroom for more ideas on creating authentic purposes and audiences for student reading and writing.



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