All grade levels

Authentic Assessment Toolbox
John Mueller, Professor of Psychology, North Central College

This tool helps K-12 teachers create authentic tasks, rubrics, and assessments. Though mostly geared towards new teachers, it can be implemented by any classroom teacher who wishes to add more authentic learning opportunities to the classroom. The website offers a concise description of what the toolbox does, defines authentic assessments (“A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills”), and explains how and why to use them in their classroom. Additionally, the toolbox connects to standards for each assessment. For a broad overview, see this description of the toolbox by the National Education Association:

Mueller, J. (2014). Authentic Assessment Toolbox. Retrieved July 12, 2015, from


Database of Authentic Learning Lesson Plans

Salina Public Schools

The Salina Public School district is an outstanding resource for both elementary and secondary teachers. This website provides us with lesson plans that are geared towards creating an authentic learning opportunity. The website compiles a list of authentic lessons in all core subject areas (Mathematics, ELA, Science, and Social Studies). The database is also categorized by grade level. So you have lower elementary lessons (K-2), upper elementary lessons (3-5), and middle school lessons (6-8). The lessons presented are all very hands-on and some even relate to several parts of the world. One of the more unique features of this website is that it also links to project-based learning lessons. These project-based learning lessons give students the opportunity to apply their thinking in both a classroom setting and in the real world.

Curriculum Technologists. (2012, February 7). Retrieved July 8, 2015, from

Digital Sequence: Scope and Sequence

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a resource for both elementary and secondary teachers. The website has authentic lessons and tools for grades K-12. Common Sense Media’s lessons hit all of the core subject areas (Mathematics, ELA, Science, and Social Studies). What is special about these authentic lessons is that each one is infused with a technology strand. These technology strands are Internet safety, privacy & security, relationships & communication, cyberbullying, digital footprints, and self-image. From a teacher aspect, the lessons are laid out for you. The lesson themselves are problem-based and engaging. Common Sense Media also shows different apps that are applicable to the lessons that you are teaching. It gives teachers and parents a rating of the app as well as content that may be questionable (if any) for younger students. Common Sense Media does an effective job at integrating technology into authentic lessons.

Scope & Sequence | Common Sense Media. (2014). Retrieved July 8, 2015, from

High School


Teach21 Project Based Learning: Cash for Your Clunker?

West Virginia DOE

The Cash for Clunker lesson plan eludes to real-world situations which citizens confront in their own lives. The purpose of this lesson is to research the US government program that is offering a $3500 or $4500 value towards the purchase or lease of a new car if you trade-in your clunker. The students are to investigate this promotion and determine if they should pursue the option with certain parameters that limit the ability to purchase or lease a new vehicle with or without the program offer. Students may have parents who are weighing the pros and cons of one such situation. This lesson offers an authentic learning opportunity to all students due to the real world contexts in which they are placed in and the choices they have to make that may affect their life.

West Virginia DOE. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from

English Language Arts

Cyrano’s Funk
Buck Institute for Education

Cyrano’s Funk focuses on the story of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Although it is over 100 years old, students in this project will feel like the characters and themes from this classic piece of literature are playing out on their Facebook page. Students become engaged and motivated by making personal connections to the play by developing a forum through social media to share and exchange their knowledge and ideas. This lesson offers an authentic audience through the outlet of social media to express their connections to the play. By offering such an experience, the students can become more engaged and receive immediate feedback on their individual responses.

Buck Institute for Education. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from


RadTown USA
United State Environmental Protection Agency

The lesson plan is designed to help increase awareness and understanding of radiation concepts among middle and high school students. The activities introduce basic concepts of radiation, non-ionizing and ionizing radiation, radiation protection, radioactive atoms and radioactive decay. With a better scientific understanding of radiation science, students will be able identify sources of non-ionizing and ionizing radiation in our world. Students will examine how they may be exposed to ionizing radiation, evaluate the benefits and risks associated with exposure and learn to identify situations in which they may choose to control or limit their exposure to ionizing radiation. This lesson offers the complexity of interactive play and connecting it to their own lives by selecting how exposure of radiation could affect their town.

United State Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from

Authentic Data, Authentic Learning! Part 1: NASA Data on Wavelength

This article explains how to use authentic NASA data in science or math courses. As stated by the author, “integrating authentic data into the educational environment can help to keep lessons current and connected to the world outside the classroom.” The author links additional resources and and approaches to allow teachers to explore how to use wavelength data in the classroom.

Clark, A. (2015, February 5). Authentic Data, Authentic Learning! Part 1: NASA Data on Wavelength. Retrieved July 12, 2015, from

Social Studies

Comparing Oil Spills

Oil spills have devastating consequences, both for the environment and for communities. In this lesson, students compare the Exxon Valdez spill with the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They look at similarities and differences in the way it happened, how it was contained, and how long it took (or will take) to repair the damage. This lesson connects real world events that are becoming more common in the news. For students to be attached to the content provided in the news while comparing incidences creates a classroom culture of genuine content and an authentic audience of knowledgeable students.

Teachnology. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from