Maybe, sometimes, the things we have kids ‘do’ in class just aren’t interesting. Maybe they aren’t real. Maybe sometimes we’ve been doing them long enough that they feel comfortable, like the old favorite pair of running shoes that fits so well, but then your toe makes a tiny hole…and it’s time to throw them out and try on a new pair? Like that.
Finding the area and perimeter of pretend rectangles on worksheets. When the world, as it turns out is filled with rectangles. Real ones.
Making graphs based on data that is completely made up. But, all around us our opportunities for kids to collect their own data. Real data. And decide for themselves what type of graph will represent it best.
Writing a pretend letter to a fake person on a fake page in a fake testing booklet for practice. Skype with real people? Write them. Get penpals. Write a relative. Write someone who will write back, and then? Kids will beg to write again, not because it’s assigned, but because it’s real.
Drawing a diagram of a circuit without ever trying to make one. Why not provide kids the materials to build a circuit and that next descriptive writing project? Building Circuits. No time for science? You just combined science and writing.
We devote hours to getting kids to memorize capacity conversions. What about cooking a real recipe with them? The kind they need to multiply to make enough for the whole class. Use real measuring cups. It’s far easier to understand how many cups are in a quart if you’ve physically manipulated the materials.
Real. Real learning. Thinking problem solving. Creativity. We often feel that there is no time to do projects. No time to squeeze in a different way. But sometimes, we need to look at those shoes and ask ourselves if there’s a better pair out there. A pair that might feel tight and different at first. But a pair that will take us somewhere new. A place where learning is real.