General Education is comprised of many different subjects that students are required to learn, and includes Reading/ELA, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and even electives including Art and other specialty subjects, such as Physical Education, Computers, and Health. The subjects that students learn in school will serve as a basic foundation for the rest of their lives, and the memories they share with their classmates, teachers, and others will have a profound impact on how they see and view education.
When children are learning new concepts in school, it is important not only for them to contextualize information learned in the classroom (more on this topic in future posts), but also for them to be able to meaningfully relate to the content they are learning. When students can relate to the content that they are learning, not only does it help to solidify their understanding of the topic more thoroughly, but it also helps them to see the bigger picture of how what they are learning can be translated to “real world” situations. What does this look like in the classroom? In Reading and ELA, children and students are making real text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world connections with the stories they are reading, such as when children learn about a character’s determination in a story, and can make a connection with that character. This can also happen by examining and incorporating epistolary letter writing in upper elementary and middle school classrooms, to allow students to meaningfully express themselves. In Math, children go on scavenger hunts in the classroom (once the classrooms re-open and everything returns to normal!), and go on a mission to find as many shapes as they can, and talk about it with their classmates and teachers. This helps them to see the importance of shapes in our everyday lives, and understand the importance of this concept in school and beyond. In Science or Health class, making meaningful connections in the classroom may involve having students look at pictures of the human heart and its chambers, and comparing that to the parts of an apple, and noting the similarities between the two. It may also involve discussing or writing about ways an apple benefits the heart. In Social Studies class, children and young adolescents can make meaningful connections by analyzing a character’s choices as being similar to, or different from, their own, and in being guided to answer those soul-searching questions through outlines provided, such as with Bloom’s Taxonomy for questioning that many teachers use. In Art class, making the learning process a meaningful one may involve discussing how different colors used in a child’s artwork can reflect their moods, or even how art can be used as a productive way to express emotions, such as how children and others have made banners and decorations to congratulate the brave men, women, and essential workers for their dedication in fighting this current health pandemic we are living through (more on this topic soon…).
When children and other students are able to take a topic and see how it has a meaningful impact on their lives and enhances it in the long run, we are then giving them a tool they can use that will hopefully last a lifetime.