Monday, November 25, 2013

It's About More Than the Math (or whatever other subject you teach!)

A family friend is a NASA astronaut.  Back in September, he left to spend 6 months living aboard the International Space Station (yes, I know someone on the ISS!).  He has been tweeting from space (@astroillini) and has shared some amazing photos!  He has also done numerous interviews from the ISS, and my husband even got to talk to him on the phone!

So where am I going with this, you ask?  Well, I've been sharing all of this (mostly via Edmodo) with my students.  (To 12 year olds, astronauts are like rockstars!)  I've uploaded the tweets (sometimes just the photos, sometimes the whole tweet) to Edmodo and we have had a really good time discussing them.  Sometimes I've posted a photo of a major landform and asked my students if they knew what it was (it happened to be the Grand Canyon).  Sometimes I've taken 5 minutes and played one of his interviews.

So why do I do this?  We all have reluctant learners.  Students who are difficult to engage in our subject matter.  Students who try to stay invisible.  I am hoping that by sharing about Mike's adventures I can engage those students.  I can show them that, while I do care about them learning the mathematics that I teach, I also care about them being engaged with the world around them, because what they don't realize is that there's an awful lot of math involved in what Mike does (and what he had to do to get where he is today!).  My efforts have created connections between me and my students beyond the mathematics that happen in the classroom.  I am hopeful that these connections will reap rewards in the classroom!

Do you engage your students in something outside your subject area?  I'd love to hear what you do and how your students respond!

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