Klea Scharberg

Encourage Kids to Ask Questions and Have Fun

In this month's Educational Leadership magazine, McREL's Bryan Goodwin shares research that shows when students are engaged in learning and can connect it to real-world interests and goals—intrinsic and extrinsic motivation—both standardized curricula and child-development needs are being served. As teachers, we can personalize curriculum standards to student interests and tap into their need for autonomy.

Even science can be fun! The This Is What A Scientist Looks Like tumblr shares pictures of scientists from all backgrounds and interests and Phil Plait—astronomer, author, educator, and the "bad astronomer" behind Discover magazine's Bad Astronomy blog—talks about getting kids into science and skepticism in a recent video Q&A. "Kids are natural scientists," says Plait. "The beauty of science, one thing that students don't always understand because they're always busy cataloging it and looking for definitions... it's a growing system, it's a process. There's always the next thing to learn."

This week President Obama hosted the second-ever White House Science Fair, featuring research and inventions from more than 100 students representing 30 student teams. In this video, the president got the chance to shoot a marshmallow across the State Dining Room using 14-year-old inventor Joey Hudy's Extreme Marshmallow Cannon. Hudy designed and built the machine, which can launch the fluffy white confections up to 175 feet away using pressurized air.

Curriculum and instruction should promote students' understanding of the real-world, global relevance and application of what they've learned. When designed well, learning tasks and activities help students deepen their understanding of what they're learning and why they are learning it. Students need a well-rounded education—English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, physical education, and health—to be ready and able for college, careers, and citizenship. By making learning engaging, we can make our classrooms and students' futures come alive.

Image source: It's Okay To Be Smart

Comments (2)


February 15, 2012

This post gets the heart of the educational enterprise, helping students learn to think for themselves. See a great resource for teachers of all grade levels for teaching students how to produce their own questions, improve them and prioritize them. http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/507

Alexander Berger

October 2, 2012

I think that the key thing here is that Autonomy to pursue one’s interests breeds creativity and learning, while being put in a box, taught towards a test, and really not respected as a person, results in lower levels of the skills that are needed in the real world such as critical thinking, analysis, and ingenuity.

Creative thinking CANNOT be learned from a textbook. (Although that was a textbook in my middle school, what BS)

P.S. That video of Obama was awesome.

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