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7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher in Grand Rapids, MI

We made some great

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We made some great connections over the last few weeks between our current events discussions and the history we are learning. While we were studying about the Constitutional Convention, we watched part of President Obama's State of the Union address. He was giving the address because in 1787 the founding fathers wrote that the President needs to do this "from time to time" in Article II. I think they were more interested in hearing what he had to say when they knew he had to do this because George Washington and Alexander Hamilton told him he had to centuries ago. They were also more interested in the Constituional Convention discussion and readings as well. Also, Egyptians were voting on a new constitution for their country at the same time. Should they adopt this new government? The same question Americans were asked after the Constitution was written. We still talk about it today. Will this vote in Egypt be in the history books of Egypt in 200 years?
It is harder for them to ask "why do we need to learn this?" when these connections are being made.

Early childhood teacher, writer, life-long learner

This is a great article and I

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This is a great article and I love your strategies for making the learning relevant to students. I also love the idea of a class in being a success. Like you, I would say I remember very few of the details I studied so hard to learn for a test in school. I must have learned some skills though which have helped me succeed in life. Thanks for sharing.

Social Media Marketing at Edutopia

This topic is so relevant to

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This topic is so relevant to my experience as a teacher. Students always (& rightfully so) want to know that class is not wasting their time. The "Algebra Attitude Adjustment" communicates the value of education beautifully: that any class you take is "success training." Someone should make a poster for this. :)

High school Social Studies Teacher

The idea is indeed great. I

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The idea is indeed great. I share with my Social Science department members that the incorporation of local news in the classroom is always a highlight as the students themselves make the connection to topics learnt. They do this in such a way that sometimes the best teacher cannot plan for. The way the deconstruct standards to make certain news item they really want to discuss relevant to the topic is priceless and AMAZING!

School Board Trustee

As a young serviceman I was

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As a young serviceman I was in the remote parts of a foreign country installing Air Traffic Control equipment, and an electronic survey device failed to function. Lucky for us I remembered how to use my High School math. Oscar Has A Heap Of Apples, Sally Carries Them. Thank you, Mr. Murphy Highland HS Albuquerque NM

High School Math

This seems to be the

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This seems to be the universal lament amongst high school math students. This seems to be more prevalent with freshmen and sophomores in basic algebra classes.
When faced with “when will I ever use this?” My response usually is “maybe never but …” then I start into explanations about teenage brain development. I explain the essentials about developing critical thinking and logic skills being at the forefront of the explanations. Algebra helps to think about problems in a unique way. Breaking down a problem into manageable parts and the solution to each part becomes the sum of the whole. You know you have achieved mastery when you are able to formulate and verbalize a well-thought out solution to a given problem and are able to effectively teach it to a peer.
Connections to math can also be made across several disciplines. Of course, the automatic connection to math and science is not the only one. It is also the basis for successful businesses. Mathematics is also used in music, art and architecture. It is prevalent all around us.
One of my geometry students said it best, “Math just makes sense. It explains so much (almost everything) around us. What do you mean when will you ever use this? You use it all the time, you just don’t know it”. I realize I am blessed with a student who loves math and he is also one that students look to as a leader.

Working to bring community-based service learning into K-12.

Years ago I realized that

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Years ago I realized that when I taught something like problem solving or design process to my university students they approached it like it was totally new. Maybe because they were in school, any subject had to be approached like "I've never done that before. I have to 'learn' it."
Then one day I realized most of them had planned a vacation or built a bookcase. They had done problem solving, they had gone through a design process. So I had them outline, or diagram, what they had done. We talked about the steps planned out so they didn't end up in Hawaii with ski boots instead of flip-flops, or they didn't have to go back to the hardware store 6 times.
Starting with what they knew or were at least familiar with got us up and running so much faster.

7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher in Grand Rapids, MI

I like that idea. That is

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I like that idea. That is something I need to incorporate more into the school year (local news). I tend to focus on showing the students that the world is bigger than their lives, but I think it is also important for them to see the impact of local events on them and the impact they could make in their communities. Thanks for the feedback.

Working to bring community-based service learning into K-12.

James, I enjoyed your talk

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James, I enjoyed your talk and am excited to hear more about the ways the kids pick up on the opportunities to question what you lead them to. I'd also be curious to hear what happens if you turn your approach on its head: get the kids started with local current issues, ideally issues they bring to class that they feel bear on them. With a personal involvement in "history in the making" they could then be challenged, over the semester to expand the geography and social and economic aspects bearing on their issues to broader and broader arenas. I recognize that you bring your approach, what's happening in this part of the world, or that part, into the students' lives. I'd still wonder if there would be a difference in their questioning and engagement if your questioning started with events down the street from the school, or even the school.
Fun stuff, gettingn the kids more than aware of the other people, places, values, and events.

7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher in Grand Rapids, MI

I tell my students they don't

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I tell my students they don't "have" to learn anything. But interesting and successful people know many things and it is impossible to know what they DON'T have to learn.
I think subjects do have too much content (especially SS) however. We get caught in the trap of checking off dates and events from our content expectations without giving students time to think and actively seek knowledge or develop their interests. I addressed this in a talk I gave last year. I'd be interested in some feedback on it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrYGFdzQSmg

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