When students ask the question “Why are we learning this?” I think it’s a valid one. What we teach in class should have some connection to the students’ futures and it’s super important kids see those connections.
Our district teamed up with Ford for a project called Next Generation Learning. Teachers in all content areas have been challenged and guided in the task of using project-based learning. Long story short, PBL is a strategy where students learn by actively exploring real-world problems and challenges. I’ve been working with business teachers to help our students to see that Spanish skills will come in handy in future jobs and careers. PBL worked well in Spanish 3, but why not try a mini-project in level 1?
So after learning about families around the world and houses, I asked my students… Why would it benefit you to know how to describe a house in Spanish? They listed a few good ideas and then someone mentioned real estate. Most students knew what a realtor was, but none knew how they earned a living. Uh oh… here comes a math lesson!
I didn’t plan to teach this, and it wasn’t a long drawn out class, but we took this time in English to talk about future work opportunities. We talked about commissions and ran numbers on pretend potential sales. Some talked about traveling and renting an apartment in another country.
Then I posed this question: Where can you get the best house for the best price?
Then they were on their own to figure it out. Their job was to create a flyer showing comparing different houses, including prices, pictures, maps, and a description.
We used Global.remax.com for our searches and the learning began…
I heard students teaching each other how to convert currencies and checking the map to find out where certain countries were located. I heard one student ask another how much houses in Louisville (where we live) cost. So they Googled it! They were beyond curious to see houses and prices and students were able to give opinions and basic information about these houses by the end of the lesson!
*Warning: Real student work contains errors. These were created by real kids (not grammar gold medalists).
Now true PBL would say students need to present findings to an authentic audience and that never happened. Next time! (There is no reason not to try a project just because it’s not perfect. We all have to start somewhere!)
Student successes: They learned about a real career and how commission works, researched in the TL, learned about currency conversions, picked up new vocab on their own, used tech to compile their research, and picked out cultural differences in American vs. Hispanic homes…
My favorite moment: At the end of one class I heard one kid say “I think I want to be a Realtor now” and the friend said “I just want to move to another country!”
What’s happening in your classroom? How do you make connections between lessons and life?