Helping your students build connections (Teaching Tip)

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

*Character Lab. (2018). Build Connections for Classrooms: Overview [PDF]. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://characterlab.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2019/03/characterlab_buildconnections.pdf

 

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)

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