Help Students See the Value of Learning

Teaching Experientially with Content-Savvy Concepts

Every 4MAT Design begins with a connect activity to engage students and to help them experience the value of learning. This connect must create an experience, an actual experience, that immerses students in the key idea of what’s being taught. And you cannot create an experiential connect without a concept. 

The twofold purpose of the 4MAT instructional framework is always the same; to bring people to learning agility by understanding how they learn and to help them achieve expertise in the material being taught.

But you must know your content and you must know your students to do this. And you must know what learning is. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 11.34.53 AMLearning: a process where prior experiences connect and arouse curiosity about what experts know and the skills that can be mastered in light of what the student already knows .

But you must know how to translate content into concepts that students experience in their lives.  So, you do not begin with content, but with a concept that relates to them. This connection is what transforms learning into the student’s world both in and out of school.

Many call it deep learning, or moving beyond surface knowledge. I call it concept-savvy content knowledge combined with intriguing experiential beginnings that engage and motivate.

How do we make these crucial experiential connections to the material we have to teach?

Here are some content-savvy concept connections from lessons and units written by teachers in our 4MATION software:

  • The US Constitution: the tension between freedom and order.
  • Nutrition: Choices
  • Probability and Statistics: Chance
  • Toxicology: Do No Harm
  • Workplace Safety: Risk
  • Place Value: Belonging
  • Magnets: Attraction

Because students can relate to belonging, or chance or choices but may not relate to nutrition or Probability. And that is where you begin by creating an experience of the concept!

Tune in next week for continuing insights on content savvy connections and a listing of how the units cited here were initiated with experiential strategies.