Allowing time to explore student interest increases engagement, understanding and achievement. As student interest arises naturally through the planned curriculum, a teacher must be free to harness student interest and use it to pursue her learning goals. An emerging curriculum is quintessentially, seizing every teachable moment.
A fun example of a student-driven activity arose recently. A line of inquiry our class has been exploring is, “We are all alike and we also have differences”. I planned to use this inquiry to teach data management, specifically to teach graphing. Starting with a basic idea, favorite color, I surveyed the class and entered their name onto a large graph vertically oriented bar graph I had prepared. After tallying our results, a student suggested we graph students’ favorite sandwich- a topic of profound interest to a hungry four year old.
Pursuing the student’s suggestion, I lost 15 minutes of planned curriculum, but I seized the opportunity to show children a horizontally-oriented bar graph. It was an authentic opportunity for students to practice and strengthen their skill with a topic of their interest. Every student was engaged in the activity. The children feel empowered when teachers listen to and focus on student suggestions. They do drive their curriculum and they do own their school.