Using Children's Interests & Experiences to Promote Learning

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  • 0:04 Planning for Maximum Learning
  • 1:21 More Than Planning
  • 2:22 Focusing on Interests
  • 3:43 Tapping Into Prior Knowledge
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Knowing your students well helps you plan rich, engaging lessons. How does this work? This lesson explains how and why to use children's interests and experiences to maximize learning opportunities in your classroom.

Planning for Maximum Learning

Debbie is a first year teacher who's excited to get started teaching her students. Her school provided her with a curriculum that's easy to follow, and she found planning for lessons simple and straight-forward. After a few days of getting-to-know-you activities, she dives into the work, expecting students to follow along easily. She's surprised, then, that many of her students struggle with content and interest. What's going on?

Debbie consults with her mentor teacher, Ms. Jones. Ms. Jones explains that when planning for learning in your classroom, it's important to keep a close eye on students' interests and experiences. Why? Ms. Jones explains that our brains are wired to make connections from something we know to something new. If students don't have prior knowledge, or experience from the past with a topic, it's more difficult for them to understand.

Ms. Jones also reminds Debbie that we're all naturally more engaged when we find topics interesting. Even if an area lacks interest to a student, Ms. Jones explains, there are many ways to capitalize on a child's individual interests to help them develop a positive disposition towards learning. What Ms. Jones is saying seems true to Debbie, but she's not quite sure what she means or how to make these things happen. Let's see what happens next.

More Than Planning

Ms. Jones starts by reviewing some information Debbie learned when studying to become a teacher. For starters, it's important that educators know not only what to teach, as Debbie has planned, but how and when as well. She breaks these down for Debbie:

What content should be taught?

Instruction should be developmentally appropriate, or on a student's level. Debbie will need to adjust content when necessary to make sure what she teaches is just right for her students' developmental levels.

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