We can make it more complicated, but this is what it boils down to, especially for teachers and parents.

Like every human being on the planet, students crave relevance. They yearn for their learning and experiences at school to be meaningful. Teachers face this challenge every day, and it can be a daunting challenge. The curriculum standards are formidable and textbooks can be over 1,000 pages long, yet from within these resources teachers must find relevance.

Choice theory reminds us that relevance is need-satisfying. It meets our need for power and success when we are immersed in something that matters to us. It also meets our need for joy. It is just plain fun to be involved in an interesting, relevant project.

Relevance is so important that when, as teachers, we go about creating lesson plans, whether on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday evening, if we cannot see that relevant link between the topic and the students, then we need to let that topic go and move on to a topic in which we can find the relevance link. Teaching irrelevant topics is a waste of time. Teachers should always strive to find relevance, but when they can’t find it they need to feel that they have permission to find a topic that is relevant.

The stairs leading to the front door of the Education building. I'm not sure which class in which this idea was used, but I like it!

The stairs leading to the front door of the Education building. I’m not sure of the class in which this idea was used, but I like it!

Quick ideas that add relevance to common topics –

Write a series of story problems for others to solve.
Do a survey of students’ likes and dislikes and then graph the results.
Learn addition and subtraction through drum beats.

Language Arts
Learn to read, write, and decipher code language.
Play vocabulary words “Pictionary.”
Use a “human graph” to see where a group stands on an issue

Social Studies
Find examples where “history repeated itself.”
Have imaginary talks or interviews with people from the past.
Hold a historical period / costume / food day.

Science / Health
Make up an imaginary conversation between parts of the body.
Create the rotation of planets with the class as the solar system.
Find five different ways to classify a collection of leaves.

Without relevance, teaching can be drudgery; with relevance, teaching can be a blast!


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