Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's Really Important?

We know that people learn what they perceive as important. Our challenge as teachers is to find out what that is for our learners. Here's an example from medicine that may bring a chuckle, but ultimately may help you realize the importance of motivation in learning.

Big Idea:
People learn what is important to them

Essential Question:
What is already important to your learners?
How can we make that which is important to us important to our learners?

Activities teachers can do to support uncovering the Big Idea:
Read what they read, watch what they watch, listen to their music. (I don't suggest you abandon your interests in favor of theirs, but you have a responsibility to be familiar with their cultural context if you are going to craft learning experiences they can relate to)
Provide time in class for students to talk about what they are interested in - to each other and to you.
Listen to your students.

Assessment: How will you know this is working?
Your students make more personal connections to the content of the learning.

Remember - your ultimate goal as a Jewish educator is to help your learners reach a level at which their Jewish knowledge, belief and practice are an important part of their lives and identities; a level at which what they are learning and doing is important not only to you as their teacher, but to them in their lives both within and outside the institution in which they learn.

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