How do I get my students interested in social studies? This has been one of the big challenges I have taken on this school year. My efforts have lead me to the book Made to Stick, a book about how ideas become sticky. I've been reading the book for a while now and using the ideas from it to try to liven up material that fifth graders have a hard time getting interested in--history, economics, and geography. Many of the concepts embedded in these topics can be a little abstract--how does one define economy for a 10 year-old--so my students have a difficult time learning them.
One of the six traits that the authors assert make ideas sticky is concreteness. Take an abstract idea and make it concrete, and people will remember it. Concrete messages evoke the senses, and the more senses they call up, the stickier they are.
An article in the December/January edition of the journal Teaching Children Mathematics actually explains how the brain processes sensory experiences. The part of the brain sensitive to sensory input is the sensory cortex. "Sights, sounds, touches, smells, tastes and muscle sensations children experience all go this part of their brains" the authors state. So it makes sense to use it as a starting point for learning. What kind of sensory experiences can we use to make learning stick with our students? Below is a list:
- Field Trips
- Role Playing
- Visual Representations
- Sharing and listening to ideas
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