How our district connects learning to the real world

Here are some ways to help students connect learning to life

Ignite My Future also provides Curriculum Connectors organized by the seven computational-thinking strategies. Each of these Connectors identifies how professionals in various industries use computational thinking and how the skill links to a subject, such as science or social studies. Introducing students to a variety of subjects increases the chance that they’ll find something appealing that they’d like to explore further. As important as STEM is, I try to broaden the spectrum by showing how computational thinking can be applied to social studies and language arts as well as to math and science.

Do project-based learning
In addition to using Ignite My Future, I’ve had major success incorporating project-based instruction it into my lessons. Project-based learning is a way to help students develop knowledge and 21st-century skills that they can then transfer into real-life situations. When students are given the opportunity to be hands-on, their interest increases tenfold. One activity the students and I enjoy is Rewriting History, during which students act as filmmakers. They collect multiple accounts of a historical event to accurately depict it on screen, while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of how history changes through various retellings. This social studies lesson, which ties into computational thinking as students collect data and find patterns, is a great way to tie two disciplines together.

Another activity that blends computational thinking with a non-STEM subject is Build a Movement, where students analyze what makes memes go viral on social media and use that knowledge to bring awareness to important social issues. This activity focuses on collecting and analyzing data to improve comprehension and problem-solving skills.

In our district, we highlight the importance of experimenting, making mistakes, and repeating experiences. I want students to feel that they can learn about a skill without the pressure, and in turn, bolster their confidence in the subjects they find exciting. Through this, we can help students discover their interests and potentially identify a career path. Most importantly, we are helping students build 21st-century skills and increase their confidence with STEM.

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