When she was in high school, Anna interviewed a Drug Enforcement Administration agent to get details on a drug bust in the high school parking lot. She wrote about it for the school newspaper.

When he was in high school, Zach lobbied the school board to eliminate study halls and let students with free hours stay home to get more sleep.

When she was in high school, Rossy made a simple Spanish language picture book for a child in rural Guatemala, and the recipient enjoyed it so much that she sent Rossy a homemade woven satchel.

These students — all students in my classes over the past few years — were all engaged in what I call authentic tasks.

Authentic tasks are carefully designed assignments that allow students to take the lead and pursue a current issue, of interest to them, in a meaningful way. The key is getting our students outside the world of academia and its school silos and into the broader world.

Are your students worried about local water quality? Help them learn how to test it.

Are they frustrated by low-quality cafeteria food? Help them develop a plan for a student-run food truck.

Are they needing opportunities to practice a second language? Connect them with a hospital that needs volunteer translators.

There is literally no limit to what our students can do, and the experience of working for an authentic audience motivates their best effort.

In Chapter 8 of Beat Boredom: Engaging Tuned-Out Teenagers, I write about the research on authentic tasks and how they impact student motivation, and I explain how we can use this kind of instruction to deeply engage students in learning and improve student performance.

This new video, the last in a series of six Beat Boredom videos, provides a quick look at how I use authentic tasks in my economics and psychology classes.

Want to learn more about using competition effectively in the classroom? Order a copy of Beat Boredom on Amazon, or fill in the contact request form on neverbore.org.