Friday, February 28, 2014

Learning from the Past: Creating Relevance When Studying Influences of our U.S. Constitutional Government

Students investigate how previous ideas and experiences influenced the foundational ideas within our U.S. Constitution.  If we simply jump into this learning, it's easy for students to lose interest.  They lose interest because it feels like a bunch of information.  It's information that's not relevant to young citizens.

As educators, we seek ways to make learning transferrable and relevant.  With this in mind, maybe we should approach the learning through creating relevance.  What if we began an this investigation about our Constitution with these questions (surely students can create something to demonstrate their understanding around these questions): 

How are you or others influenced by the past?
What other things are influenced by the past?

Today, I am who I am because of my parents, friends, family, and past experiences.  People and experiences left shaped who I am today.

Today, musicians write and create music because of the musicians who have left a mark on their soul.  Some were influenced by The Beatles and Eric Clapton, others were influenced by Madonna, and others were influenced by the Beastie Boys.  The words and songs of today were influenced by previous musicians.

Today, architects design and construct homes and buildings based on the designs of previous architects.  While their designs are new, their designs contain "fingerprints" from previous architects.

Everyone and everything is influenced by the past.  When we recognize this transferrable idea, then maybe students will finder greater relevance when learning about the influences of our U.S. Constitutional government.  
To engage students with this learning, we might create relevance first.  After all, hopefully we have learned that a key facet for learning involves...RELEVANCE.

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