Great classrooms all have one thing in common: they involve students in meaningful and engaged learning. You probably recognize meaningful and engaged learning when you see it: students are motivated, challenged, and truly invested in school. At XQ, we believe this kind of learning is crucial to transforming high school to work for students. In this week’s newsletter, we’ll explore different approaches you can use to cultivate meaningful, engaged learning in your classroom. Ready? Give me five!
1. APPLY: Projects for Relevant Learning
Use project-based learning to engage students in real-world problem solving.
Why It Matters: In project-based learning, students gain knowledge and skills
through solving authentic problems. This approach engages students by connecting classroom learning to real-world issues and approaches. To facilitate project-based learning, consider how you might:
- Present problems that students find relevant
- Engage outside-of-school partners to plan projects in the community
- Allow time for student reflection and revision of their projects
2. EXPAND: Connect Across Subjects
Real life doesn’t fall into neat, separate school subjects—so why should classroom learning?
Why It Matters: Interdisciplinary learning asks students to combine knowledge from multiple subjects to solve problems and come up with new perspectives. It fosters independent thinking, and engages students on a deep level. Take an interdisciplinary approach:
- Reach out to other teachers to plan collaborative projects
- Connect students with out-of-school opportunities for interdisciplinary projects
- Create a rubric that emphasizes making connections
Extra Credit: What is STEAM Education?
3. CENTER: Put Students First
To craft learning experiences that your students will find meaningful and engaging, highlight student voice and choice from the beginning.
Why It Matters: Giving students choice over when and how they learn sets them up to pursue learning they find personally meaningful. That’s the philosophy behind student-centered learning. To incorporate student-centered learning in your classroom:
- Get input from students about how they learn best
- Create a class layout (in-person or virtual) that fosters collaboration
- Complement traditional assessment with student self-evaluation
4. CONNECT: Engage with Social and Emotional Learning
Students learn best when they feel connected and in community.
Why It Matters: Building community to support meaningful and engaged learning is especially important now, given the disruptions of the pandemic. SEL can help students reconnect not only with each other, but with school in general. You can build SEL into your current classroom routine:
- Share SEL goals with students alongside academic ones
- Build your own SEL practice
- Start with small SEL routines, then evaluate them with students
5. EMPOWER: Culturally Responsive Teaching
Make sure your curriculum engages all students at a deep level.
Why It Matters: Culturally responsive teaching invites students to bring their full identities into the classroom and to be challenged by learning that’s meaningful for them. Expert Zaretta Hammond offers these strategies for staying cultural-relavant, even when learning remotely:
- Activate students’ background knowledge
- Build routines for the brain
- Boost vocabulary confidence through wordplay
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