Helping your students build connections (Teaching Tip)

A group of students participating in a class discussion

What are your students’ passions, and how do they relate to the topic that you teach? “Build Connections” is an activity that you can use after covering the first major topic of your course. Developed at the University of Virginia, the exercise helps students see how what they are learning is related to something that matters deeply to them. Details may change, but if students make school meaningful on a personal level, the material can have more relevance and (hopefully) better retention of the content.

As you introduce the activity, ask students to brainstorm things that are important to them. List them in section 1. Now, ask the students to think about topics they have learned in the present unit, and list them in section 2. Thinking about the possible connections, 3. draw a line between ideas in column 1 and column 2. Review the connections and summarize it in section 4, and consider why the topic is important to you in section 5.

It may be helpful for you to create your own “Build Connections” worksheet*. You never know what new meaning you may find in the subject that you teach!

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Helping your students build connections (September 5, 2019 – Constant Contact) website.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September 5, 2019 (PDF)

An activity from Character Lab that asks students to Connect school topics to personal interests

To explore more activities to engage students, visit the Character Lab website.