I help students do something with their learning
Making learning relevant is a difficult but very necessary teaching practice. I have found that guiding students to making explicit connections to real-world relevance or workforce readiness, taps into their natural curiosity and develop their interest in the content!
One specific example I've explored to help students make connections to real-world relevance came through the form of an assessment. According to the six essentials for developing knowledge, students gain deeper knowledge when they connect and apply their learning to bigger concepts so I created a "police officer job application" for students to complete independently. Since the standard is asking students to identify key details of a text, the questions on the application can only be answered through a deep understanding of key details. For example, one question asked what skills the student has that would make them a good police officer. Students must have a clear understanding of what a police officer does to answer this question.
Denver Police Department- Police Officer Application
Full Name: ________________________ DOB: _______________________
Address:________________________________ Phone number: _________
Have you ever worked as a police officer before? (Circle one)
Please answer the following questions in a complete sentence:
What does a police officer do?
When might an officer pull a car over?
Why would an officer give a ticket for someone not wearing a seat belt?
How do Police Officers communicate with each other?
Another way to help students make connections to real-world releveance is through discussions with their peers and teacher. Active learning involves opportunities for students to meaningfully talk, listen, and reflect on one another's response of an academic subject. (Myers & Jones, 1993, p.6) To help ensure students' discussions were meaningful, I provided sentence stems to help guide their thinking. On the board, I posted the following stem:
I would be an awesome ____________ because they ___________________. It would be most challenging for me to be a _______________ since they have to ________________________.
These guided questions helped students to hear multiple perspectives through the reflection of a real-world conversation. In addition, students feel empowered when they are taken seriously as knowledgeable and valuable participants in a conversation (Hudson-Ross, Clearly & Casey, 1993). The students were very engaged in their conversations since there was elements of choice, and control intentionally built into the sentence stems. I used the students reflections and questions as a formative assessment to adjust. Naturally, students were able to provide more text-based reasonings reguarding the community helper they were most interested in. I was able to use their reasonings to note and address misconceptions some students were having about the key details of the job.
Madison-Harris, R., & Muoneke, A. (2012, January). Using Formative Assessment to Improve Student Achievement in the Core Content Areas. SEDL. Retrieved from