Contextualization: Who are Our Students?

Posted by Heather Gorgas at 11/2/2016 10:00:00 AM

Contextualization:  Who are Our Students?

Our River Birch Learning Leaders gathered again this morning to continue our learning in the 6 Standards of Effective Pedagogy.  In our previous blog posts we've shared our belief in how important dialogue and collaboration is for our learners.  Joint Productive Activities (JPA) are ways our learning leaders are encouraging student collaboration and co-construction of learning products.  In addition to JPA we've learned more about Language and Literacy Development (LLD).  Elementary school classrooms are ripe for learning about language and literacy, and we've spent time planning to be most intentional about how we activate that learning in our school.  

This morning, we introduced Contextualization (CTX).  Our teachers were introduced to the construct of contextualization and how student's lives outside the classroom impact learning inside the classroom.  In this professional development session, our teachers were asked to consider how they'll consciously and deliberately create learning experiences that acknowledge, validate, and build upon students' lives and experiences from their homes, communities, and individual cultural backgrounds.  

How will I strategically create learning opportunities that acknowledge the lives and realities of my students?

When teachers intentionally design and implement learning as contextualized experiences, they have to think differently about the questions they ask and how they guide students to interact with new and often abstract academic concepts. Teachers who contextualize learning avoid working from assumptions about what students know or have experienced.  Instead, teachers pose questions to their students, encouraging students to explore their own understandings, experiences, and connections.  through students' responses, the teacher and students together move from individual understandings and misconceptions to shared understandings, experiences, and application.  Teachers, therefore, must consciously consider the students they are teaching this year, this day, and in this particular classroom. Contextualized learning asks teachers to leverage their students collective and individual experiences to positively impact school learning.
Our continued work with Dr. Teemant and Dr. Tyra helps drive the professional learning and evolution of our instructional practices at River Birch. Our learning leaders are committed, dedicated, and there is no doubt in our mind that this occurs in every classroom in our school.  We appreciate the time we have to discuss and collaborate to enhance our current instruction to be better than ever.  
Credit:  Dr. Serena Tyra & Dr. Annela Teemant