Finding real-world connections to student projects is largely a matter of perception. To an adult, the “real world” is work and economics. To a kid, the “real world” is the playground when the supervisor is looking the other way.
—Anonymous Teacher

This is the first in the weekly series for teachers and tutors on how to incorporate the real world into students’ learning.

Did you know that adding real life connections in the classroom will increase the engagement of your students? When students understand why they are learning what they are learning and how their learning will be useful beyond school and university, engagement increases, regardless of curriculum. At Vidyanext, we’ve seen success incorporating the real world into the classroom with both ICSE and CBSE students. We’ve heard about it being successful for the IGCSE and IB curriculum as well, increasing students’ overall engagement in the learning process as they gain insights into real life applications of the classroom skills that they’re learning.

To optimise students’ learning experience, lesson planners should think about how they trigger creativity, imagination and the pursuit of knowledge.

Multimedia activities offer an easy way to do this. Teachers and lesson planners can easily create rich context for structured learning as well as support alternative teaching methods. Over the next few weeks, we will cover how to bring material to life through social media, podcasts and streaming videos. You will find that with just a few minutes of preparation, you can open your classroom up to the wider world.

Three tips to start today:

Get Current: Incorporating current affairs into the classroom creates a more engaging lesson. Whether it’s the latest water dispute or India’s efforts to launch a satellite, helping students become aware of issues will help their recall by creating connections between what is being taught at school and what is happening in the real world.

Technology: A recent study found that students spend an average of 30 minutes on their mobiles during class. Rather than ban devices, why not incorporate technology into the classroom? Technology makes it simple to show how academic content relates to everyday life – on YouTube alone there are lakhs of examples by great content creators, available for free. If parents are worried about tech use by students, remind them that in the workplace, phones and other technologies are readily used – so students must learn how to to manage them and get the most out of them to prepare for their future in a technology driven world.

Encourage group work: Working in groups allows students to learn from peers as well as from the teacher. For some types of learners, peer learning is even more effective in creating those connections between academic content and real life connections. Problem-based exercises that provide shared learning experiences are an opportunity for students to learn through discussion, clarification and evaluation of ideas.

Deep Dive: Teaching Mathematics to Classes 4-8

So how can you apply these learning experiences? This week, we will look specifically at Mathematics and some strategies for bringing the real-world examples into the mathematics classroom for structuring lessons.

Here are three strategies for Maths Teachers:

1. Encourage students to play math challenges at the grocery store with their family. For example, they can estimate the total cost of all groceries prior to checkout. For a greater challenge, encourage students to incorporate GST and discounts for bulk items. Ask them message you a photo and the answer on WhatsApp, or assign it as homework over the weekend.

2. Kitchen math is a great way to engage the child who doesn’t like math. What is a recipe but an algorithm in a different form? Have your student scale up or down recipes, and make their own recipe. This type of thinking will help your student build the connections between the real world and academic content that will make them successful in day to day life. And, when they come up with a real good recipe, ask them to bring the pudding to class!

3. Can your student make a budget? How much money does it cost to buy food? How much food gets wasted? What does it actually cost to live by ourselves? Together with your students, compute yearly expenses for a person who lives a modest lifestyle. Then ask students to prepare their own budgets.

I hope you found these tips useful. Next week we will be exploring real world techniques to teach a particular concept. Do you have a concept you struggle with teaching? Let us know in the comments!

About the author:

Aradhana Mathur
Scrum Master, Food Enthusiast, Parent, EdTech blogger
works at content.vidyanext.com