Friday, March 13, 2015

#youredustory, Week 10: Passion for Learning

Prompt: How do you infect students with a passion for learning?


I try to get my students curious about what they are learning by getting out of their way and giving them the time and the space to be curious about areas of history - and their life - that interest them (a little more about that here).


For me, in order to create the space for this exploration, I have to teach less content. I’m totally okay with that. I know some aren’t comfortable with that decision, but in the age of near ubiquitous information, we need to dramatically rethink what we are doing in history classes. (That’s a topic for another day though.)


Unit structure
So. The first step is to try to get students intrigued and excited about the ideas in the unit we’re working on. This might be provocative questions that relate to the content, or a simulation of some sort. After this, we head into some shared schema building. This often involves some sort of a model that applies to a given unit (a model for how a revolution happens, for example), then an application of that model to a real situation in the content of the unit (applying that revolutions model to the French Revolution). After that, I turn kids loose. I let them go out and find a part of history that relates - either thematically or chronologically - with the shared schema we just covered. *


My goal is that by giving them enough schematic hooks to be interested then enough choice that they can find something that intrigues them, they’ll connect with something they are passionate about - or at least interested in - learning about.


Additionally, I try to get my students passionate about learning by not doing history in my class on Friday: kids are working each Friday on their 20time projects, which don’t have to have a connections to the content of my class. As I watch kids struggle to learn to code, or research the meaning of dreams, I watch them hit stumbling blocks. I watch them struggle and not give up. I watch them develop perseverance around learning, but around learning on their terms.


Then, I get to watch that passion and perseverance transfer to doing history-related work during the rest of the week. Which is fun :)


*Note: After kids scatter into areas of a unit that interest them, we come back together and look at what kids have created. As students look at their peers’ projects, they answer synthesis questions about what similarities can be drawn across the disparate content that they chose to cover.


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