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Standard 1 - Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning

Teachers know and care about their students to engage them in learning. They connect learning to students’ prior knowledge, backgrounds, life experiences, and interests. They connect subject matter to meaningful, real-life contexts. Teachers use a variety of instructional strategies, resources, and technologies to meet the diverse learning needs of students. They promote critical thinking through inquiry, problem solving, and reflection. They monitor student learning and adjust instruction while teaching. 

1.3 - Connecting subject matter to meaningful, real-life contexts

As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”


1. Establish a Connection Between Subject Matter and Purpose for Learning?

Strategy: Begin each lesson by explaining why the subject matter is important and how it can be applied in real life. Use clear, relatable examples to illustrate the purpose of learning the material.

Example: When teaching algebra, explain how algebraic equations are used in various professions such as engineering, economics, and computer science.

Resource: Edutopia: Making Learning Relevant


2. Make Connections Between the Subject Matter and Real-Life Contexts?

Strategy: Use project-based learning (PBL) to create opportunities for students to apply what they are learning to real-world scenarios. Incorporate case studies, current events, and real-life problems that require students to use their skills and knowledge.

Example: In a science class, have students design and build a sustainable garden, applying principles of biology, ecology, and environmental science.

Resource: Buck Institute for Education: Project-Based Learning


3. Seek Feedback from Students Regarding the Relevance of Subject Matter to Their Lives?

Strategy: Regularly ask students for feedback on how the material relates to their interests and experiences. Use surveys, reflection journals, and class discussions to gather insights and adjust instruction based on student input.

Example: At the end of a unit, have students complete a survey about how the content applies to their lives and what aspects they found most engaging or useful.

Resource: TeachThought: Student Feedback Forms


4. Engage All Students in a Variety of Learning Experiences That Accommodate the Different Ways They Learn?

Strategy: Differentiate instruction by using a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities. Provide options for students to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, such as through presentations, written reports, or hands-on projects.

Example: In a history lesson, offer students the choice to create a video documentary, write an essay, or build a model to demonstrate their understanding of a historical event.

Resource: Understood: Differentiated Instruction


5. Provide Opportunities for All Students to Acquire and Practice Skills in Meaningful Contexts?

Strategy: Design activities that allow students to practice skills in real-life contexts. Use role-playing, simulations, and community-based projects to make learning experiences authentic and practical.

Example: In a language arts class, organize a mock trial where students practice public speaking, argumentation, and critical thinking by playing the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors.

Resource: Edutopia: Authentic Learning



Additional Resources for Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning


1. Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Provides a framework for creating flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.

CAST: Universal Design for Learning Guidelines

2. Differentiated Instruction: Offers strategies for tailoring instruction to meet the diverse needs of students.

ASCD: Differentiated Instruction

3. Educational Technology: Tools and resources that support the integration of technology to enhance learning experiences.

EdTech Magazine: Educational Technology

4. Inquiry-Based Learning: Encourages students to learn by asking questions, investigating, and discovering answers.

Edutopia: Inquiry-Based Learning

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