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

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
December 2010
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Using classroom footage and teacher interviews, this video explores the practice of creating assignments based on real-world perspectives. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school discuss how a variety of populations can benefit from this approach, including academically gifted students, English language learners, and students at various levels.

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)
[In class] Robert cares about electricity and magnetism because he enjoys playing his video games. So who would someone be that could care about electricity and magnetism that has to do with video games? [In interview] After I started using this type of assignment, I saw my students more engaged in their learning, I saw that they were more interested in what they were learning. They felt like they could take ownership.
[In class] How about the people that create the video games? Is that a job? Yeah! And that’s a pretty cool job, right? [In interview] They were in charge of what they were learning, they were in charge of doing research, and figuring out why it was important to them to learn this subject matter, instead of just saying, this is the standard course of study, these are your objectives, this is what you’re going to learn. They got to take ownership of their learning and make it relevant.
I think this approach with gifted students kind of takes their learning to a different level, some of them master the curriculum before you’ve even taught it. So then, you don’t want your students to be bored, you don’t want them to be distracted, so if they have an activity that still goes along with the curriculum, it still goes along with our standard course of study, and our pacing guide, and the unit that we’re studying, it’s effective for them because they then have the opportunity to take their learning to a different level. I’ve had some of my AIG kids say, "Well, I never knew that this happened, and it interests me, maybe in the future I want to become a scientist that studies rocks, or a scientist that studies electricity" or something, so they get a different perspective of the unit. One thing that’s really important is that it’s not something that just has to be used for your AIG students. Any student can learn about a perspective — certain perspective from certain profession. Their products might be different, they might have to print out their graphs from a computer and make a product, where your AIG kids might be able to come up with their own types of graphs and create the graphs and collect the data, and do it that way. So it doesn’t matter their learning style, it doesn’t matter the difficulty level of the topic. They should all be able to adapt to the perspective-based learning strategy.
Ebony Williams (02:22)
I am able to reach every student at a different level. I have high, middle, and low, and even with the students with the English barrier I can relate the things that they enjoy most to math, and they grasp the concept, and they’re ready to run with it.
Carrie Brewington (02:47)
I saw these perspectives, and I thought, wow, this is really, this really would really work to make the AIG students think, but at the same time, it would also help to relate some of the content to the students that are at a lower learning level, or even the ESL. So it helps a lot of the students of all learning levels, I think, this real-world perspective. So I’ve been using that since I attended a workshop which was in the very beginning of the semester, and I’ve been using it all semester since.
Molly Patterson (03:15)
I have a group of ESL and ELL students, and my ESL students really, really love to do this activity. One of them completed this pyramid activity on coaches, and our previous learning was "who cares about graphing?" So they actually interviewed our PE teacher who is also a baseball coach and a football coach, and so he told him how he uses graphing for his coaching, and so he made up, "Basketball coaches use graphs so they can see if a player scores or not." So they were actually able to take the learning throughout the school. Another group of my ESL students went down and interviewed our principal. And she pulled out a whole basket full of graphs that were in different binders for each grade level, each teacher, and they were just amazed. They thought that principals were the ones that, you know, they didn’t really get involved with too much math and science, and our principal really sat down and showed them that and then they have this huge interest in becoming a principal now. So now a couple of my girls want to go to college to become a principal of a school. So it’s helped — I think — my ESL and my ELL students tremendously.
Student (04:26)
I personally like it, because I don’t get everything on a science note, but if you relay it to something outside of the science classroom, or the biology classroom. We were talking about different angiosperms and gymnosperms. Instead of just sitting in the classroom, we actually went outside the classroom. You relate it to a job, because you know we’re upper class and we’re older, you know we are thinking about jobs, so if you relay it to something outside of the science classroom, I think we have a better understanding.
Hayden Simon(04:55)
One success story that I’ve had is a child who, he just really doesn’t care about learning, comes in every day, he’ll sit on the carpet, not really engaged. But when we started the "who cares about" poetry, we were talking about rappers, how rappers care about poetry through, you know, figurative language, they use a lot of similes, metaphors, etc. And so that got me thinking, when I was creating other things like RAFTs, well let me include rap in there. And so he’s written various raps, I mean he did research on exactly why rappers care about poetry, so it really got him engaged in what we were doing. The AIG kids, you can definitely tell that they might work at a higher level, the things that they come up with, whereas the EC kids sometimes it’s more of a base, a baseline that they’re thinking, what they’re thinking of. But I think that it definitely gets the EC kids more engaged in what they’re doing. Some of the AIG kids they’ve seen it before, and they still love to do it. But the EC kids, when they know they’re doing something that the AIG kids are doing, it makes them feel kind of proud of themselves, you know like, "I’m smart too."
Carrie Brewington (06:08)
Some kids are more social, and some kids are not as social, and so initially, I found it a challenge to try to reach all the different types of learners, but as we started working on it, it started becoming more comfortable. And it’s an opportunity for the students that are more socially aware and have that keen sense of careers and professional development, to be able to work with someone that may be more autistic, or maybe someone that’s not as socially keen as that one student is. And so it was really able to form a bridge between all the different types of learners, not just high and low, but from the social versus the more intrinsic type of learner.
Ebony Williams (06:43)
One success story that really sticks with me is a student of mine was not interested in mathematics at all. He loves to read, and read constantly, every day, all day, even while walking in the hallway, while eating, whatever he’s doing he’s always reading. His assessments were always the B/C borderline for grades, and I wanted to know why his grades were better in ELA and not in math. Actually I was jealous. And he said to me, "I have no interest in math. It’s boring. When am I ever going to use it?" And I said, "Okay, let’s take a look at it, what’s boring to you?" And he said, "Well, matrices, what does that have to do with anything?" And so I allowed him to go online and look at data pertaining to wars and a lot of history, and he was able to put that data into a matrix. We converted the data from a matrix to a scatter plot. We converted the data from a scatter plot to systems of equations, and it’s "Oh my gosh, I get it. I understand it. Wow." And now, in everything that we do in class, he wants to take control and show students how to use real-world perspectives into the math class, so it’s gone from a B/C grade to 100% on everything that he does.