Meaning Through Maker Ed

Shanneth Flawn-Thomas

How many times have students asked “Why do we need to know this?” If students are learning to write an essay or studying paradigm shifts in history or science or to express themselves artistically, the answer might come easier than if they are learning about ionic bonding or how to determine the equation of an ellipse. As teachers, we know the value of opening doors to as many areas of knowledge as possible and the reward of mastering difficult concepts.
However, a big-picture perspective can be more difficult as a teen, in the day-in day-out routine of early mornings and long homework assignments. But we’ve all seen the exceptions, students who have a fully realized sense of self, values, and a plan of how they will reach their goals. These students often seem like their success and drive is effortless to their peers. How can we get students to benefit from one another’s perspectives?

A lesson in finding a mission for learning can be a valuable exercise in sharing perspective and motivations. Students of varied backgrounds, and cultures collaborate in finding motivation through discussing their values and where their values come from. Who are their influences? Who are their day-today heroes?

Discussing values, motivations and allowing students to get to know themselves and each other better and understand one another’s viewpoint more deeply can help them gain a sense of empathy for their peers. It will allow you to get to know them as well. How can you keep in mind their motivations when planning a lesson? How can you keep perspective in mind? How can you show how you are living your values and through your teaching practice?

In this SEL lesson, students will use critical thinking to develop self-awareness, and determine the origin of, and influence on, their knowledge and how to use these ideas to create their own mission for learning. The idea of this lesson is to help them identify their values, influences, and motivations to give them a “why” and a structure for their time in high school.

The Lesson Plan

Find the lesson plan below!
About the author:
Shanneth Flawn-Thomas is an experienced IB Chemistry, IB Physics, and IB ToK teacher. She has also taught English as an adjunct in universities in Lille, France. She has her MSc. Smart-EdTech degree through the University of Cote D'Azur. What drives her passion is helping students and teachers reach their potential.

Learn more from Shanneth by checking out her Coffee Chat on Critical Thinking in the IB.

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