K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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About this video

Daniel Lunk
Date created
December 2010
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2010. Terms of use

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Using classroom footage and teacher interviews, this video addresses the long-term benefits to students of using assignments based on real-world perspectives. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school share observations and success stories.

This video is one in a four-part series about creating and implementing perspectives-based assignments. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Who Cares?: Using Real-World Perspectives to Engage Academically Gifted Learners.”


Molly Patterson (00:12)
I think doing the "who cares about" really helps my students see their role in the future. And it helps them see their impact. When I was in school I was just taught because that was what I was supposed to learn, that’s really, kind of when I look back, how I felt. And I really try to take these students to a different level by telling them that there are so many reasons for you to learn about these objectives. We don’t just give them to you because we feel like you should know it. We feel like you should know it so you can become a better learner, so you can become a better student, so you can be prepared for the future, really.
Carrie Brewington (00:47)
[In class] Doctors obviously need to know about genetic engineering. [In interview] The very first time I threw up the "who cares" challenge, the students were a little puzzled, then I think they got the hang of it. And then I added a little more. They didn’t just have to come up with the different professions that would use genetics, they had to start writing about them, and how would they use it in their own words, and they had to use this in their journals. This is a journal activity that we do, I guess you’d liken it to a bell ringer. And so we would do this almost daily, and I saw the benefits right away because it would spark student interest in the content that we were getting ready to cover.
Hayden Simon (01:26)
I hope that the long-term goals for them will be them thinking about the topics at a deeper level. You know, lots of times you have kids and they just go through school and, "This is what I have to learn because the teacher says this is what I have to learn." And I’ve found that if I can make the connection between the real world and what we’re learning, it seems to take them a lot further. They care about what they’re learning. They understand that there’s a reason for them to learn. So I hope that that will stay with them, and that, you know, next year, when they’re in sixth grade, and the teacher’s talking about a topic, in their mind, they’re thinking, "Okay, who really cares about this? Why is it important for me to know this?" Because if not, they’re just sitting in the classroom, "Oh," you know, "I’m just having to learn something else, but if I can relate it to the real world, then it means something to me."
Student (02:19)
I think with the "who cares" challenges, we’ll be able to retain more, and, like, actually be able to use it. If we didn’t have the "who cares" challenges, we would probably forget it. There’s lots of different jobs out there, and everything pretty much relates to biology. It’s — science is everywhere. So, you pretty much need it to become a professional in whatever you want to do.
Carrie Brewington (04:46)
The students can relate to this, and they will keep the knowledge that they’re learning in their minds as they move on to college, or post-secondary. There’s always a way to relate everything that we’re doing here in this science class to things that are going on in the real world. And it helps them stay focused and see why this is important for their future, which, really, in high school, isn’t that far away.
Ebony Williams (03:09)
Students will see a better outlook on life and what it is that they really want to do after graduating high school and entering into the real world — college, or whether it be the work force. And they are allowed to utilize that tool to help implement their future plans.
Molly Patterson (03:30)
I see long-term benefits from using this approach as the students being aware of different opportunities for themselves. When we did the graphing, for example, they said a cafe worker needs to know about graphing, but also a veterinarian needs to know about graphing. So they really got a sense of, "everything I’m learning in fourth grade I will need for the rest of my life."
Myself, along with Ms. Simon, we do an activity called, "what do I do when I’m through," and it’s a college entry essay topic. So they can choose one of ten college entry essay topics that we actually pulled off of different university web sites. And a couple of those have to do with "what profession would you choose, why would you choose that profession, how do you plan on entering our program, what are your expectations?" And at first they were, "I would like to be a teacher, I would like to be a vet." Well now, through doing the "who cares about" this year, some of them are coming up with the most off the wall topics and professions that I wouldn’t even thought about for them, but it’s because we’ve been doing the "who cares about." "I would like to be a scientist that creates this, this, or this," or "a geologist that can study rocks." And I really, honestly don’t think they would have chosen those professions if we hadn’t done the "who cares about." So I think it really opens their eyes.
Carrie Brewington (04:45)
This really gives the AIG students a chance to incorporate that detail, higher-order skills. And they really are striving for post-secondary education, and they’re really thinking about being the doctors, and being the engineers, and taking on those, you know, real professional careers. And so it gives them an opportunity to really see what those careers will look like, and what it would be for them to go into those careers, and to see it through the eyes of those professions kind of at an earlier age, kind of a little head start for them. Today when we were talking about ecology I had one of my ESL students pull out his translator and look up the word ecologist. And ecologist in English is very similar to ecologist in Spanish. And so a lot of these words, when it comes to like, professional careers, are universal. That’s something that they are really able to relate to in that respect is that universal terminology of profession and careers.
Ebony Williams (04:43)
They have to do research on how math is related to their career path, and they are seeing, "Wow, I can do this in journalism, I can do this in science, I can do this in anything that it is that I want to do in life, and math is there all around me." As long as your students can see a future, then there’s going to be a good outcome.
Molly Patterson (06:07)
We want to have our kids be these 21st century learners, globally competitive. I told my kids that, you should be able to compete with a job of somebody in New York City and you should both have the same opportunities, so why not figure out now why you’re learning all of this, and make it relevant to yourself?