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Lesson 6.7

Let’s Get Engaged:
Making School Interesting

Stop blushing! Here are four ways to make classes more interesting.

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Great teachers are leaders. They persuade students to care about what they are learning.

Some make it exciting. Some make it fun. Some make it feel important and grown-up. Some make it part of a journey that leads to a destination that students care about. But one way or another, great teachers make learning relevant.

If "curriculum" is the insider buzzword for "what" is taught, "pedagogy" is the buzzword for "how." Teachers are accustomed to this word, and use it without blushing. (If you are new to education it helps to practice saying it in different ways: "she's improving her pedagogy," "my concerns are pedagogical." Better yet, don't.)

The 19th-century term The 19th-century term "pedagogy" got its groove back in the early 2000's (source: Google Books Ngram Viewer, http://books.google.com/ngrams)

Good pedagogy engages students in curriculum. A 2012 survey of 220 students about what they find engaging was featured in Edutopia, a magazine for teachers. The students’ responses included:

  • Working with their peers and with technology;
  • Connecting school work to the real world (e.g. project-based learning);
  • Giving students choices and a variety of different types of experiences; and
  • Having a teacher who is excited about the work, interested in her students, and approachable.

The good news for students is that the Common Core State Standards tend to encourage these approaches. One example is project-based learning, an approach to teaching that enables students to show their knowledge through projects that are connected to the real world. This is the type of instruction that supports both academic knowledge and the “habits of mind” that are a central goal of the Common Core.

In the coming set of lessons, we will explore many of the subjects and approaches that educators use to make learning spicy, cool, relevant, and interesting. We begin with the idea of making school a place for creative experiences.

Updated July 2017

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The term “pedagogy” refers to:

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Questions & Comments

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user avatar
Susannah Baxendale February 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm
Project based learning is at the core of the Road to Success Curriculum used for the students in Probation camps. The variety of projects (and what each asks of a student) works from a teaching point of view -- and, it appears, from the students' perspective as well. The students still write essays and so on, but the projects give them opportunities to think creatively.
user avatar
Albert Stroberg May 1, 2016 at 8:09 pm
"Having a teacher who is excited about the work" -this is my favorite. A teacher who really gets it and loves the topic can bring this to just about anyone. And the kids know it.
I would be terrible as the Dance teacher, I just do not get it. But let me loose in Biology- we are going for a ride.
And so it should be- looking for the expertise & enthusiasm rather than the warm body at a low price.
user avatar
lb2vta March 23, 2015 at 11:49 am
Thumbs up for this lesson. Learning is a life long journey!
©2003-2019 Jeff Camp
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