- Students at Ridgewood Community High School near Chicago are building a home as part of their math and construction classes, with plans to actually sell the building as a livable space. Another math and business class at the school helped a 12th grader develop the tools to launch a cake pop company. The senior plans to use the profits to help pay for college, reports District Administration.
- Real-world skills woven into lessons is one way to help students see the relevance of what they learn in school.
- Teaching educators how to blend open-ended lessons into classrooms not only broadens a student’s mastery of subject material but can also increase test scores.
Bringing real-world lessons into classroom curriculum is gaining momentum among educators and administrators. Students who see practical applications for the skills they develop, be it algebraic equations or how to use a compass, find their learning has a purpose.
While projects can be designed in class, curriculum designers don’t have to limit students to the confines of the school. Community-based organizations can link schools to real-world projects. Service learning opportunities for high school students, and even apprenticeship programs, can also help students see a tie-in between what they’re mastering in class and how it might impact their future.
To help steer students, educators may need some guidance from their administrators as well. Professional programs that show teachers how to link lessons to work students will have when they graduate, can help. Fellowships from groups including EarthWatch and Ignited work by taking educators out of the classrooms into real-world settings so they can bring that experience back to students to help steer learning for their future.