So sometimes we have to teach things to our students that are heavy topics that cover a lot and to get through it is a drag.
How do we get our students excited about a topic if we are not very excited about it either.
One of the subjects that I need to teach is government. A topic that is typically dry and many teachers complain that it is hard to get through and tedious to teach.
So how can Inquiry be used to invigorate this traditionally dry topic?
One of the easiest things to do to make students interested in something is to add a dose of controversy.
Students are often by nature focused on fairness and being fair. If you can find an example of people not being fair and use it as a jumping off point you can hook them quickly.
In a government unit I like to focus on the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. We talk about what is fair and just and what is something all people have a right to?
“Does everyone have the right to leave the country when they want?”
“Should your boss be able to fire you if they think you are too old to work”
Take some right out of the news
“Should a bakery be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay/homosexual wedding?”
“Should a women be allowed to wear a niquib/hijab/turban/cross at work?”
“Should only a indigenous people be allowed to hunt on ancestral lands?”
These issues lead to hard discussions with strong opinions and as a teacher you have to be prepared for these difficult conversations with an open mind and open heart.
However there is not much that peaks interest like a little controversy.
Ask For Student Input
If the topic is boring then ask about what they want to know about it.
Perhaps initially they won’t know very much so introduce them to a few concepts and a broad survey to give them some background knowledge.
Then ask them what they need to know more about.
When you do this you can have student share what they wonder about or want to know more about.
Take their questions and sort them and group them into guiding questions.
This will help you to find key points that students can learn about.
From there students can design their own learning project that answers these questions. Think of it like a design your own test activity. You give students the test questions and they come up with the way that they are going to answer the question.
It is a backwards approach to assessment but one that increases engagement and learning for students.
Make A Game Of It
There are so many ways to turn a learning objective into a game. And a game that can include a traditional board game format but is not limited to this challenge.
Try an escape activity with students where they have to uncover the information through a series of steps. While they try to break free they can also learn about their topic in a fun way.
When learning about biodiversity students are challenged to learn about all of the various ways to classify vertebrates and invertebrates.
This content is large and getting through it can be long and tedious.
Using a breakout with a foldable for student to create through a series of challenges creates a visual display of learning and classification that also covers a great deal of information in a small amount of time.