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Making Connections


Found in: student-directed learning; student participation

I used to think talking off topic was an intrusion. I used to say things like, 'Don't lose that thought,' 'great idea, now let's get back to the topic.' Or I would offer paper to let the student write down a reminder so we could discuss it later. I never penalized them for thinking, though.

Then I realized through research and experience (over 40 years) that it is a good thing. It shows that students are making connections and activating prior knowledge. If we can't see the connection, it doesn't mean it isn't there. In this time of realizing that student-originated instruction is the instruction that sticks, it is a good time to find strategies that can allow for bumps in the road you planned and to be versatile enough to see through their eyes.

Educational Leadership, a publication of ASCD, has a whole issue devoted to the idea of student participation in the planning of lessons. Students are really curious, and it's our duty to satisfy that curiosity while still meeting standards. It's up to teachers to find the right connections.

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