“Why do I have to learn this?” “When are we ever going to use this in real life?”
Building real-world relevancy to answer that big why question is something that all teachers grapple with. Why should students care about the Pythagorean Theorem or learn how to create a stem and leaf plot? Establishing the connection between the what and why of learning ensures student interest and motivation— ultimately make teachers’ lives a lot easier! Here are 8 ways that you can immediately use tomorrow to ground your lesson in the real world and ultimately, make students care.
1. Using literature to grow little humans
Veteran teacher, Laura Randazzo (check out her Teachers Pay Teachers store here), created a lesson plan that she calls the “extended metaphor to you.” In her example, she uses the book Grapes of Wrath and the turtle metaphor to flip analysis to the students, in addition to comparing it to characters in the book. This technique would force students to put themselves in the character’s shoes and see the what the metaphor means to their own lives. (via pinterest.com)
2. Be transparent
If it isn’t already part of your routine, start writing the day’s essential question, objective, and activity on the board. These are great, easy opportunities for teachers to repeat student outcomes and build a roadmap for students at the beginning of every lesson. (via Faculty Focus)
3. Frame lesson activities with “adult responsibilities”
You’d like students to be able to do “adult” things like taxes and buying a car when they finish their schooling so use your next interest rate lesson as a good real-life activity integrate house hunting with interest rates! Check out Kim at Teaching Math by Hart on how she grounded percentages and interest rates in an activity about buying students’ dream cars and homes. (via Teaching Math by Hart)
4. Go be your wild, weird, passionate self
Students will care more when they see how much YOU care. You have my permission to run around the classroom, screaming your excitement for the rock cycle. Why, my desk neighbor and Gradeable Customer Success advocate, Sheri, just told me how she taught her classes the “Mitosis Dance”—and proceeded to re-enact it for me. (Worth a watch if you’re interested in the dance.) (via cmu.edu)
5. Get to know your students
Put that beginning-of-the-year interest survey to use! What do they love? For example, you can connect your chemistry lesson to their love of cooking. All my students were huge soccer fans so I crafted a science lesson that revolved around the ingredients of the soccer ball and how that affects the ball’s performance—I’d never seen so much engagement. (via cmu.edu)
6. Using professional jargon instead of academic jargon
Katherine Robinson decided to “re-label” common classroom assignments. Instead of essays, write an article in the New York Times style. Instead of reflections, write self-evaluations or personal statements for a college application. (via facultyfocus.com)
7. Get outside the classroom
Former science and technology specialist, Jennifer Willoughby shows that his doesn’t just mean field trips—from discussing the air conditioning vents to the number of steps in the school, real life is literally right outside your door. (via glenoe.com)
8. Real work for real audiences
Teaching Romeo and Juliet? Will Richardson says that you don’t have to do a full production—you can film it and put on YouTube, and send the password-protected video to families. The possibilities go beyond YouTube and videos—Richardson also wonders what could be done with traditional lab reports and sit down interviews? (via kqed.org)
Relevancy reaps rewards. Students are more likely to care when they know that it’s worthwhile and of value to them. I was that strictly (boring) PowerPoint teacher, but when I was relevant, I suddenly became that elusive “fun” teacher.
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