So why is it so important for kids to see the relevancy in what they are learning? Well, not only is there a plethora of research that supports it, we have seen what happens with our own eyes. Kids become more motivated and excited about their subjects when they can truly apply what they are learning to real life and participate in an activity, simulation, or lab that provides hands-on, real-life experience with the “why” of it all.
As observers, we have seen education at its best. It is amazing to see classrooms full of energy and full of students motivated and excited to learn. Ideally, this would be happening in every classroom at every school.
So, what does this look like? Here are two example classes.
6th Grade Science: Erosion and Deposition
9th Grade Algebra: Decimals and Percentages
In this class (which I observed), they set up a café and shopping spot (much like Nordstrom’s). Each table group had an item for sale, had the real price of items, and the exact percentage taken off of each advertised item. Other students would come and “shop” based on the “retailers” poster boards with catalog pictures, and the “salesman” needed to give the shoppers a sales pitch based on what the shopper was buying and then ring the price up correctly. Not only were the sales pitches entertaining, but the students were getting into it and running with their ideas. Fast forward a few minutes and the shoppers would make their way to the café. Here they would order off the menu (the class actually had some donuts and juice for the shoppers to enjoy while at the café) and after dining the shoppers received a bill for which they had to calculate a tip (either 10%, 15%, or 20%) to be split amongst their group.
Percentages and decimals can (and often are) taught through worksheets and word problems. What do you think will stick with a 14-year-old more: the lesson described above or worksheets and word problems? I can imagine these teenagers going shopping after school and saying something like, “Oh, I know how to figure this out. Remember that store we did in class!?” I have actually heard these conversations in real-life. Here is a "high-five” to that teacher! It worked!