This toolkit was created in partnership with PERTS to support educators who are taking action in their classrooms.
Simple ways you can increase student engagement
Relating lessons to students’ lives can go a long way in helping them make important connections between the things they care about the content they’re learning. By allowing students the opportunity to reflect on what they are learning and its connection to their lives, you can enable deeper engagement in the classroom. This practice shares a simple formula for making those connections a part of your routine, and is packed with links to curated resources for math, science, and social studies teachers.
Students engage deeply in learning when schoolwork feels relevant to their lives.
Research shows that in order for students to be motivated and engaged in their learning, they need to value it. In other words, it has to be relevant to their lives. Encouraging students to make connections between course material and their lives has been shown to promote both interest and performance for students who did not expect to do well (Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009).
When students see a connection between school and their goals for the future, they are more likely to value schoolwork, feel connected to school, and be invested in learning. Multiple studies have shown that students—especially students who start out less interested in a subject—experience higher motivation and performance after describing how a week’s lessons relate to their own life, even if they only do it a few times over a whole semester (Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009).
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this practice is to help students make connections between their lives and content through scheduled written reflections on what they are learning in class and why it’s relevant to them. The resources in the toolkit provide inspiration and tools you can use to help students make these connections on their own in different content areas.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice can be easily adapted for any K-12 classroom.
- When you should you try it? This practice can be tried any time during the school year.
- What materials are needed? You will need:
- Journals, paper, or another way for students to capture reflections
- Pen or pencils for each student
- How much time is needed? This practice is estimated to take 15 minutes to complete with students, with a discussion that can be extended as time allows.
If you’re ready to get started, follow the guidelines in our toolkit to learn more!
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