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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Do You See Yourself in the Curriculum?

Today when I showed a short Flocabulary fact film, a little boy started smiling. He saw himself in the video and was somewhat surprised at that.

Do your students see themselves in the curriculum?

Do the words, people, objects, and places relate to their lives in any ways? If so, how do you know? If not, what makes you think that?

So many curriculum programs are dry with few people, places, and real-life context. I recognize that there is room for these dry learning tools, but I also know that there's room for engaging, fun, and empowering culturally connected tools and resources.

I'll never forget the first time I introduced SumDog to a class and young boy came back and said, "I didn't realize learning math could be fun!" That initial engagement caught that boy's attention and he went on to be one of the strongest math students in the class. SumDog was one of the few platforms that had many cultural references. Unfortunately it was discontinued at my school for reasons beyond my control at the time.

We need to make school rich, meaningful, enJOYable, and productive. Yes, we want students to learn, and sometimes what they need to learn is not lots of fun. Yet, when we choose tools, choreograph the program, and teach, we have to remember the wonderful power of engagement. When we used SumDog, students were going home night after night and playing with friends near and far for hours. The same is true for any engaging learning activity--the learning takes on a life of its own.

What programs, resources, projects, and tools do you use that are rich, engaging, and empowering? How do you choreograph the day so students want to go to school, desire learning, and look for more? These are key elements when it comes to teaching and learning well.