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learning is meaningful when it is connected to students everyday life
On the surface, the difference may not be immediately apparent. Both classrooms cover the required curriculum, they both include reading from the text, and they both include teacher-led discussion. [ However, if we look closely we see that instructional strategies in the second classroom are based on what we currently know about the ways people learn. The teacher asks the students to tap
into prior knowledge, first by sharing their experience with the content ("What do you know about this region?"), then by the structure of the activity itself. The learners must use memories of a previous trip to plan this one. With the trip as a guide for thinking about the content, the textbook becomes a source for relevant information that can be applied to the students' plans. They can assimilate the information that fits into that framework. If they discover information that does not match their understanding of the region ("I didn't know Chicago was on a lake."), they must decide to accommodate that new information, or reject it as irrelevant or wrong. Teachers must be able to uncover these internal decisions. While tests help teachers monitor student understanding, there are other effective methods which include encouraging explanations of student work or strategies, allowing presentation of student products, and listening to conversations in small groups or large group discussions. Authentic sources (letters from correspondents in the region, information gleaned from interviews) supplement the content presented in the text. Students actively pursue information about their destination and the journey along the way, and they also reflect on their efforts by keeping daily journals. Presentation of the student portfolios allows a formal opportunity for social interaction. It lets the learner present the work and lets others discuss it. While not mentioned in this scenario, informal conversations are equally important ways of letting students talk about their projects. ]
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