Brain research shows that people learn better when they can emotionally connect to the topic we teach. Is it possible for teachers create such connection effectively for every lesson? Let’s face it –some topics are not very “emotional”.
Well, I started thinking about it and then I caught myself wondering, “Why am I thinking about it? What triggered my interest? Have I connected any emotion to this topic?” Yes, indeed! Curiosity took over and I was easily sucked into hours of professional reading and thinking.
If curiosity is emotions that can make our students want to learn, then how can we as teachers make sure to inspire such emotion?
- “Hook” them! Use curiosity as a primary motivator at the beginning of activities; “hook” your audience. Did you know that it only takes about 25 seconds for your students to determine if what you show is worth watching or listening to? If during that short time they decide it’s “boring, you lost your students – their brain will not be actively involved. Basically, remember you have up to 20 seconds to make them believe that what you are showing is the coolest thing ever!
- Questions matter ~ Create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable about raising questions and testing their hypotheses in discussions and brainstorming. Not only does this foster curiosity but it also helps to build confidence. Remember there is not such a thing as a “stupid question”.
- Exploration, Time and Choices ~ Allow adequate time for exploration of a topic. If you are successful in stimulating curiosity, then learners will want to explore, discuss the topic. Provide opportunities for choices. For example, in a writing class, the student can explore a topic of his/her interest while accomplishing the goals of the writing task. Being allowed to choose a topic that is intrinsically motivating will help sustain curiosity. Project-based learning activities and authentic assessments are perfect examples of such practice in a classroom.
- Modeling ~ Model curiosity. Ask questions. Engage in specific exploration to resolve a question posed, demonstrate enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid to think out-loud in front of your students.
Here are a few resources that may help you “hook” kids’ curiosity:
- Daily Writing Picture Prompts to trigger kids’ curiosity and creativity. Some images and topics are not appropriate for elementary students, but we can make our own paradox pictures with better quality topics. Just let me know if you are interested, and we can start building our own bank of unique pictures.
- Geocube is an attractive online resource about Geography. Based on the principle of the Rubik Cube with six faces and 54 topics, it is a virtual exploration of our world. Move the Geocube around with your mouse and explore the faces and topics. Geocube provides an accessible way to read, see and watch what Geography is and what geographers do.
- 2day Sweet Search a daily assortment of the best content on the Web for history, language arts, science, news, culture and other topics. Kid- friendly content that can be easily integrated into daily classroom activities, and your topic will never be old!