1. Journal Entries
Although journaling is an especially strong fit for English classes, it can also be a powerful tactic in other content areas. A biology teacher, for example, could ask students to describe the ecosystem near their home or to reflect on whether or not they look like their parents. A social studies teacher could ask students for their opinions on current events or whether or not they would want to live in the historical period the class was studying. A math teacher could ask students to think about a time they will need to use math in their adult lives. Journal entries are quick to write and easy to grade (I asked my students for a minimum of five sentences, and graded them only on length), but they can be a great tool for asking students to connect their learning to their lives.
2. Concept Circles
There are a number of other ways teachers can use Concept Circles to check for understanding, offer vocabulary practice, and encourage students to make connections. The resource I linked to above has a number of different ideas, which can be adapted to several grade levels and subjects.
3. Higher-Order Vocabulary Practice
- It’s easy to make my teacher ________ from the day’s lesson.
- Mr./Ms. ________ might digress from the day’s lesson if somebody mentions _________.
Of course, there are many ways for teachers to begin a lesson with thinking and relevancy. These are just three I found successful in my own classroom. I would love to hear current teachers share some of their favorite entry tasks that increase relevancy and thinking!