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Interest Driven Instruction

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Brad Booker

on 6 June 2015

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Transcript of Interest Driven Instruction

Interest Driven Instruction
What is 'interest-driven instruction'?
Allowing students to pursue their interests will give them drive and intrinsic motivation to learn (Pink, 2009). Much class time is wasted in keeping students on task. In developing an interest or passion, they will be excited to learn about it.
"When a topic connects to what students like to do, engagement deepens as they willingly spend time thinking, dialoging, and creating ideas in meaningful ways" (McCarthy, 2014)
Giving students the freedom to choose the topic and means of investigation is valuable to their personal development as a life-long learner

How can I incorporate interest-driven instruction into my classroom?
Interest-driven instruction seeks to match the content of a course with the natural interests of the students.
Children are innately curious; they have an immense sense of wonder. Interest-driven instruction harnesses a child's curiosities and enthusiasm to excite them about learning. This learning is authentic. Students will are easily motivated to learn when topics are of interest.
Schools need to facilitate learning, not dictate it. In a traditional classroom, the teacher is the expert and holder of knowledge. In a classroom that uses student interest to guide instruction, the teacher guides the students to discover learning on their own (Rheingold, 2014).
Case Study: Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII)
Inquiry-based Learning
Humans learn by being curious and asking questions about a topic of interest (Rheingold, 2014). Following those curiosities to drive learning and understanding is often called inquiry-based learning.
Described as "transforming wonder to knowledge" inquiry-based learning involves the teacher-assisted development of student questions (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013). Those questions guide student's exploration, experimentation and learning.
Project-based Learning
Why adopt interest-driven instruction practices?
Project-based learning allows students to explore their interests and curiosities as they learn through creating a product.
When creating something of interest, students learn far more, with more enjoyment and retention as they solve a problem or address an issue that interests and has meaning for them (School District 59, 2015).
What's wrong with traditional education?
In traditional education, teachers tell students the things that they need to learn and require them to remember that material for tests (Rheingold, 2014). In many cases, this type of learning does not provide students with a context or application of learning.
If educators start by teaching skills first followed by the application of those skills, the students will fail to recognize the value of what they are learning at the time they are learning it (Vickery, 2014).
Content without context is meaningless. By giving students opportunities to explore their interests, they will learn relevant content in a useful context.
Connecting with student’s interest is just the surface: it is the hook. Implementing student interest into classroom instruction goes well beyond surveying the students for their favorite topics. In this type of instruction, the teacher acts more like the "guide on the side, than the sage on the stage" (Rheingold, 2014).
Interest-driven learning is not a free-for-all for students. Teachers need to help students to develop deep and meaningful questions and guide them to discover solutions.
The teacher must move the students beyond their initial curiosity towards deep and sustained inquiry (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014).
At PSII, students learn through a mixing of classes and through co-construction of inquiry projects. Subjects do not occur in isolation. Students blend concepts from math and music, science and english.
The teachers are the experts on how to maximize learning. The students know what they are curious about. Together the teachers and students work to develop learning. Teachers help students to construct questions and from the questions come to the learning activities (PSII, 2015).
What to do next?
Incorporating interest-driven instruction does not need to be a complete overhaul of your school's education practices. It can be incorporated in small doses. Here are a few suggestions to help bring student interest into guiding classroom learning:
Help students to develop a sense a wonder, encourage critical thinking and experiments over simple google searches.
If students have questions, work with them to develop those questions into deep, open-ended inquiries.
Work with teachers of other subjects to see if topics could be interwoven.
Be flexible with assignments. If students have passions that you are unfamiliar with (technology) try to work with them to determine how that passion could be used in lieu of tradition media.
McCarthy, J. (2014, August 20). Learner interest matters: Strategies for empowering student choice.
Differentiated Instruction
. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-learner-interest-matters-john-mccarthy

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013, May). Inquiry-based learning.
Capacity Building Series
. Retrieved from: https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf

Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PS11). (2015). What’s different about PSII? Retrieved from: http://www.learningstorm.org/about/whats-different-about-psii/

Pink, D. (2009)
. River Head Books: New York, NY.

Rheingold, H. (2014). Learner-interest driven curriculum. Retrieved from: http://dmlcentral.net/blog/howard-rheingold/learner-interest-driven-curriculum.

School District 59. (2015). Focus on learning. Retrieved from: https://sd59.bc.ca/programs/focus-on-learning/2015

Vickery, J. (2014) Youth teaching youths: Learning to code as an example of interest-driven learning.
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
. 57(5), 361-365.

Brad Booker
EDGR - 535
June 6, 2015
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