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Interest


If you’re fishing, what do you put on the hook: what you like, or what the fish likes? Source unknown


 


Inquiry projects, themes and other learning activities that "hook" students are often centered around their interests. By engaging their curiosity and attention in this way, students are more likely to invest time and energy in their work.

Ways to Spark Interest


Content, process and product can all be differentiated according to student interest.


For example :

  • All students can be working on key or essential understandings and skills i.e. content, while reading and writing about topics that are of genuine interest to them.
  • During the learning process, cooperative strategies such as jigsaw or group investigation, can be used to allow teams to focus on one facet of a larger project that is particularly interesting or intriguing to them.
  • Offer students a variety of ways to express what has been learned through the final product. There can be elements of the product that must be completed by everyone, and students can be encouraged to design or select other elements that reflect their interests.
  • Share your own passions and interests with students as this can trigger new interests.
  • Encourage students to try new forms of expression, e.g. using photography with poetry or personal writing, using graphic/ comic elements, incorporating technoloqy, etc.
  • Whenever possible, connect learning to real-world issues that are relevant to the students.


 


Build in Choice

  Following a mini-lesson on myths, Grade 5 students get a chance to read and explore different myths. They form literature circle groups based on the myth they are most interested in and engage in lively discussions with others who have similar interests. Student engagement increases when there is a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction to choose from.


 


Encourage Exploration

  These Grade 3 students are developing a deeper understanding of how narratives work by sharing their discoveries of the way their favourite narratives are put together.


 


Connect to Students’ Lives

  Working with popular media texts, including magazine and television ads, Grade 6 students select images of children their age that pique their interest. They use critical media questions to guide their exploration of how images work to construct meaning. Students develop their own products to demonstrate their learning.
   


Make Learning Authentic

 


Writer’s workshop is an excellent example of authentic learning that supports differentiation. During the drafting process the focus is on the content rather than on the mechanics of writing. All students, regardless of writing competency, are able to participate and experience continuous learning. Engagement and interest are high as students choose their own topics and text types to suit their purpose. Respectful tasks allow all students to participate in activities that are equally engaging and challenging.


Ways to Discover Students’ Interests

  • Journals
  • Dialogue
  • Interviews
  • Opportunities for students to choose their own topics of interest, texts, projects, etc.
  • Interest Surveys and Questionnaires

Additional Resources


The New Zealand Ministry of Education offers information on using students’ interests in planning for teaching.