The most important question!
As you can see from my blog description, I am a big fan of giving learning context. All too often I sat through lessons growing up wondering “Why am I learning this? Who would ever need to know this?”
If these questions do not get answered fairly sharpish – the lesson is lost – students are wasting their time daydreaming and the teacher is wasting their time talking to themselves!
How? …Make it relevant
So, in a nutshell, relate learning objectives to real life – for example, what types of careers require a high level of expertise in this, what jobs would it be more of a ‘nice to have‘ additional skill, and where and when might I use this learning outside the classroom in general (hobbies, everyday life, travelling, communicating, understanding etc.)? A discussion of this nature can sometimes end up getting lost in a labyrinth – which exit do you take? It is up to you to navigate and lead so too much time is not spent on the discussion instead of the lesson!
When and Where?
This approach can be taken in almost every subject and every lesson and often can act as an effective wrap-around discussion point. Start the lesson with the objective as per usual, and then ask the students why they think this is an area that should be covered in school. Needless to say there will be some smart answers, but embrace that, and as this question becomes commonplace, the smart answers will either die out or become part of a lively introduction to the lesson, one which the students also embrace. Starting a lesson surrounded by smiles is never a bad thing!
Wrap it up…
At the end of the lesson, it is worthwhile revisiting this question too – now how do the students feel about the lesson objective? Are their feelings different? Was it worthwhile covering? Can anyone see themselves, or others, using their most recent learning in their future, perhaps through a different medium or context?
I have found this type of engagement in lessons really reaps rewards, especially with those students that are hardest to reach.
Check out my latest free resource on TES which inspired this blog, the first lesson in the ‘Running a Business’ series: bit.ly/1PH9Cwb