Customization Series: Make It Relate

As mentioned in our previous post, customization on Edcite allows teachers to find resources other teachers have created and adapt them to meet the desired rigor or level. Another useful benefit of customizing assignments from our library is to make them relate better to your students. Your students should be able to see themselves and the world around them in the content you put in front of them. When students can better connect to the material, engagement increases!

Making content relatable can be approached in so many ways, but I’d like to focus on connecting content to current events and to your students’ identities.

Connecting to current events:

With the World Cup in Brazil getting so much attention in the media and engaging many worldwide, why not incorporate it into an assignment for your students? Look at this math assignment here: Sorting and Counting for Kindergarten. Definitely a quality assignment, but check out this version when I customize that assignment to incorporate the World Cup question. Although I didn’t change the rigor of the assignment, I increased the connection my students will have with the material.

I also have found customizing my content a great way to highlight the impact of important individuals when they pass. I remember creating content about the Great Depression around the time that Shirley Temple passed away. I customized an assignment to highlight the impact she had on America during that time: Shirley Temple and the Great Depression. When Maya Angelou passed away I was able to also be responsive with my teaching and create an assignment that hit on some High School Listening standards and highlight the great impact she had on our country.

Connecting with your students’ identities:

Part of ensuring that our students are exposed to diversity through our classrooms is seeing reflections of themselves in the content as well as seeing people who look like them in positive portrayals. For example, I have this assignment here about two step word problems and although I love the content I noticed that none of the kids in the images looked like my kids–the assignment included only pictures of white students and I taught at an almost entirely black school. I modified the images very intentionally to make sure my kids could connect and continue to develop positive racial identities. I tailored that assignment here to better fit my classroom context.

Beyond race, we can customize assignments to reflect lots of aspects of our students’ identities. Do I teach in an all girl school? Do I teach in a religious school? How can I adjust my content to always affirm the identities of my kids? This question drives me to constantly look at what and how I am presenting material and Edcite allows me to use other people’s content and ensure that I can customize in a way that best builds up my kids and our context. Plus, it also lets me put names of my actual students into assignments and nothing builds engagement like seeing you and your best friend in a word problem! 🙂

Be sure to check out our next post in the Customization Series tomorrow: Changing the Language.

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