Contextualized Instruction #etlead

In the text A New Culture of Learning, the authors talk about gamers “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out.”  Although it seems like just play, it actually consists of a higher level of learning that we expect our own students to achieve in our classrooms.  This makes sense to me because I believe that my students will achieve that higher level of learning (geek out) if they collaborate with their peers (hang out) and find a personal connection to the content that they are learning (mess around).

In a blog post about contextualized instruction, EFFTIPS discusses cognitive research that shows rote memorization rarely transfers from one context to another.  Instead, learning will transfer more effectively if our students understand the “big picture,” and the when and how to apply what has been learned.  We only acquire this deeper understanding if we put what we have learned to use through practiced application.

This is always easier said than done for me.  I get that my students will acquire a deeper understanding if they have a personal connection to the learning, but sometimes it is hard for me to help make that connection.  My students simply do not have an understanding of the outside world.  Because we live in our own little community, I have a small vocabulary base to work with.  My students don’t understand a lot of basic concepts, such as driving a car or depositing money in a bank or going to college.  The most difficult part of my content courses throughout my masters program was trying to create community based problems for all of the many different concepts we were discussing.  I felt like I kept creating problems based on the same subjects – basketball, subsistence, and school – because that is all that they know.

I would really like to hear how other teachers from small, rural communities find ways to connect their content to their students every day living.


2 thoughts on “Contextualized Instruction #etlead

  1. leslieburdick


    I like your link to the contextualized learning. It brings up some very good points. The fact that it is not a new idea, but one that has been around tells us something. Technology is changing quickly but some of the really good ideas are still there. Maybe we just need to rediscover them. I also liked your thoughts on hearing how teachers in small communities connect content to their students lives. We become so focused on the urban and faced paced city life that we forget that small rural communities are out there. Their connections have merit and we may learn something from them. Interestingly I found a blog about how we need to stop talking about technology education and talk instead about teaching. We again are so focused on being more effective teachers with technology that we may be losing sight of plain old good teaching practices. Check out this blog You might find it interesting.

  2. sllambries

    Brandi, I will be the first to admit that I do not have experience teaching in a small rural community. It sounds like you have some unique situations to work with. The fact that you are interested in providing rich experiences for your students sets you apart already. I have been trying to pull some resources for you. In the past I have found it is helpful to have someone you can seek out for resources. Dan Walker sounds like he might be a good resource. This article might be worth checking out and maybe you could email him?
    Here is another site to check out. Again, I am not sure how helpful it will be but it seems like a good resource:

    Good luck. I wish I could help more. 🙂


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