4 Ways to Make Lessons Relevant for Your Students

Students crave purpose and relevance in their education. As an educator, you understand that students want to see a connection between what they are being taught and everyday life. You understand that real-life ties help stimulate their brain and boost engagement and motivation to learn.

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been discussing relevance in education a lot lately, from posts like Improve Learning Through Emotion and What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)? 

However, we understand that making material and lessons relevant to students is not always an easy task. To help you integrate relevance into your curriculum, we’ve outlined four unique ways you can help your students apply the concepts and lessons they’re learning toward real-world situations:

1. Center a lesson around a real-world problem.

Integrate social, cultural, technical, practical, and biological issues into your curriculum. When you are planning a lesson, think about how the material relates to the world at large. This helps students approach the lesson in a practical, strategic way and realize that they can enact change in the world.

For example, the world has become increasingly health conscious with the obesity epidemic. In health class, students can learn the importance of living a healthy lifestyle first-hand by keeping a food and activity log for a week and designing a food and health plan for the school.

2. Invite guest speakers to address your class.

Guest speakers are a great way to inspire students and help them see a real-life point-of-view with what they’re learning.

If you’re teaching a history lesson on World War II, try to find a WWII veteran or historian to come in and talk about his or her experience and have an open question and answer session with your students.

3. Design simulation activities and games.

Having students role-play and immerse themselves into a real-life situation helps lessons take on real meaning.

In economics class, learning to manage and spend money responsibly becomes ingrained into the minds of students when you have them manage and track pretend money over the course of a week. This can include managing a bank account, credit card, and check book.

4. Encourage students to enter local and national contests and competitions.

Student-only contests and competitions are exciting for students. This empowers them to apply their education to a project they believe in.

Whatever a student’s passion is, they can find a contest to showcase their talent and have an opportunity to win awards and scholarships for their hard work. Check out StudentCompetitions.com to find challenges happening around the world.

Read our Improve Learning Through Emotion blog post to find three more ways you can make learning relevant for your students.