What Do Students Want to Learn?

Isbister, Kathy

Educational Theory

What do students want to learn? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://teddintersmith.com/innovation-playlist/what-do-students-want-to-learn/

Summary: I found this link on the Innovation Playlist website, under the heading “Student-driven learning”. In the video, the State Superintendent for Public Instruction in Virginia details an idea a middle school Principal put into action. Students were asked to write down something they would like to learn on a post-it note. The notes were collected, and a few 30-minute blocks were set aside during the year to teach subjects students suggested such as “How to tie a bowtie” and “How to change a tire”. It was a small innovation, but a success because it opened conversations at the school about relevancy and engagement.

Evaluation: While the setting for this video is dry (a man at his desk), and the introduction is dry, it is brief and shares a powerful experiment conducted in one middle school. The speaker stresses that this activity did not have to happen frequently to be meaningful, and I think that is an important point. Students have a long memory for activities they enjoy, whether they happen frequently or not. If this particular experience is not recreated multiple times during the year, it does still demonstrate to students that they can ask for learning experiences that are personally relevant and there are resources available to provide the information they seek. While they may not always be able to have an individual lesson with an actual instructor on “how to tie a bowtie”, they can still see that this is a valid question someone felt it was worthwhile to answer, and if they have other information needs in the future they may seek out answers rather than just let those types of questions fade away.

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