Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Novelty: Enhancing Student Curiosity

Personalized Learning in the Common Core Standards

By Amy Esselman

Novelties in the classroom make the Common Core Standards and topic matter far more interesting for any learner.
There are certain things that have been done the same way forever. No one seems to question the process—it just is. Things are the way they’ve always been and everyone seems to be just fine with that.

You drink milk with cookies, pair salt with pepper, and put ketchup on your hotdog.

But, do you remember when green Ketchup was introduced? It caused a stir. Kids couldn’t get enough of it. But why?

Personally, I’m not a fan of green condiments. I was never particularly interested in squeezing green paste on my food, and yet I was intrigued. Just like every other kid around me, I begged my parents to buy it so we could all experience how cool and new it was. Red ketchup was out, Green was a million times more exciting.

Now I know hotdogs and ketchup don’t have anything to do with school, but it does apply to kids.

The reason why the ketchup got so popular was that it was novel. It was new, exciting and different. It spiced up the kitchen. It got kids excited to help set the table, prepare food, and even help serve – or better yet share.

How does that apply to the classroom? You can use any number of examples.

The same books, lessons, problems, scenarios and stories get old. There is nothing novel about working on the same exact thing as the rest of your class. There is nothing exciting about a step by step guide to solving a problem. As the Common Core starts being implemented in more and more schools, classrooms will become even more skill based. The Common Core will personalize the process students to become both college and career ready. It’s just about content—it’s about the journey students take to understand it. We can’t afford to bore students with the same old stuff, in the same old way.

By incorporating personalized plans, and a little bit of “green ketchup” into classrooms, students are able to get excited. Not everyone learns the same way so finding new ways to spice up learning is absolutely crucial. When you introduce a new project, or new flexible learning guidelines—ones which are adaptable to individual needs and interests, you light a spark of innovation and intrigue. Students start thinking “I can do it my way? Really?”

Imagine how curious students would be to discover their own roadmap to success. Not everyone wants to do the same thing over and over. Some students don’t want to work on the same projects in the same order and same style as their classmates—it’s all just red ketchup to them.

Where’s the color? Where’s the fun?

Sometimes making learning appear “new” is as simple as putting a new spin on a lesson, or asking for student input. Give students the freedom to find solutions their way, to share in the discovery of success. They won’t be able to get enough of it.

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