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.