“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin is often credited with this quote that resonates with teachers as a reminder to make learning experiential. When students have a personal stake in the subject matter, they better connect to what you’re teaching, and are more likely to engage with challenging subjects.
Here are three tips for inviting experiential learning into your classroom:
1. Let students choose
An abundance of research is available about the benefits of giving students choices in their education, especially when it comes to producing high-quality outcomes. A student who isn’t overly interested in science but loves history may have little interest in looking for dominant and recessive genes, until she examines more closely the links between her grandmother’s brown eyes and her own blue eyes. By inviting students to apply what you’re teaching to what they find meaningful, you increase the odds of robust student engagement.
For example, at Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA), our middle school students recently participated in a Virtual Science Fair. Students chose an experiment to take on and were asked to present on their findings and use of the scientific method. They researched various ways to grow flowers, whether or not animals have a dominant foot, and how fingerprints are unique, among other topics. Students were given the freedom to choose what they studied. At the end of the assignment, many indicated they planned to dig deeper into their research.