All of the education that one can handle would be all for naught if nothing is done with that education. As teachers we can stand in front of the class and tell the students what they will need to know and that it is important for their upcoming tests, but if that's all the students get, what is the point of the learning?
I provide, in my instructional units, guiding questions that give context to students. These questions hopefully show students what can be done with their learning, following is an example from a math unit:
An amazing way to help students understand why they are learning, and what can be done with their learning, is by giving them context for their learning. As Hubbell & Goodwin (2013) state "[If students can] find real world applications for what they're learning, the new knowledge is more apt to find its way into long-term memory." (p. 144). This real-world application can be seen in the guiding questions of my math unit.
The guiding question of walking into a store and being able to figure out how many pieces of candy can be bought with 500,000 VND is about as real world of an application as you could hope for. Fortunately, with 3rd-grade math I am teaching the students the foundations and building blocks for more advanced math in the later grades. In addition, this type of foundational math is also the type of math that they will be using in their real-world applications of life: paying bills, splitting payments on dinners out, planning vacations, and all the other various applications of multiplication and division that I believe are applied in every person's life every day. If I can relay this type of context to the students, then I believe that the knowledge will find its way into their long-term memory. When it is in long-term memory they will be able to actually do something with their learning when they out of the classroom into the world.
Hubbell, E. R., & Goodwin, B. (2013). The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A Checklist for Staying Focused Every Day. ASCD.
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Benjamin Snitker. A master's candidate at Colorado State University-Global Campus.