What Do We Teach?

The two readings for this week had a lot of valuable information about the content that we teach and how to do so effectively. One of the core ideas in chapter three of SMART is that content needs to engage and relate to the student, otherwise effective learning will probably not occur. Connections between the content and the student are crucial in curriculum, and such connections can be made to students’ specific backgrounds or to their personal feelings of self-empowerment. Without relevance, a lesson on the book “The Outsiders,” for example, is close to useless. I can clearly remember my 9th grade World History Governor’s School teacher implementing these ideas into her classroom, and because of that she still remains my favorite teacher today. During the first week of class, she had each student work in groups to write a rap about a specific person in history that we were learning about that week (I can’t remember exactly who). This was such an out-of-the-box idea that immediately interested and engaged our 14-year old selves. Obviously, Mrs. Carlton didn’t just arbitrarily assign this task; there was reasoning behind it, an end learning goal that she wanted us to achieve (this relates to backward design teaching). This assignment not only gave us students the chance to learn about this specific person in history in a fun and engaging way, but it helped us build core skills of sociability, teamwork, creativity, and independence in that we basically had free reign to express ourselves through this assignment. The way in which lessons and assignments are implemented makes all the difference in student learning and whether or not there will be genuine understanding and interest. As discussed in the backward-design article, having a clear end goal in mind is a sure way to plan lessons accordingly and with purpose, and to effectively run a student-centered classroom.


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