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The Teacher Tip

Incorporating Students’ Interests into Lesson Plans

March 1, 2018

Adapted from Take Charge of Your Teaching Evaluation by Jennifer Ansbach. 

What you learn about your students is also an important factor in your academic work with students across the year. Consider the following ways in which you can tailor your work to your students’ needs.

Consider Students’ Resources as You Plan 

Keep students’ resources in mind as you design curriculum. For example, if students don’t have Internet access at home, asking them to do online research on their own each night might cause difficulties. You might also ask students who have some experience or expertise that relates to what you are studying to share what they know.

Give Students Opportunities to Involve Their Families and Culture 

Try to weave in activities that involve your students’ families and culture throughout the year. When I teach the American dream, I ask students to learn about what the American dream means to their parents or grandparents and to write about how their own dreams are similar or different. My film students watch one of their older family member’s favorite films with them and then discuss the experience with the class. Students are honoring how their identity shapes their understanding of the world around them.

By incorporating our students’ backgrounds into our teaching, we can make students feel invested in the process, in the product, or in the people in our classrooms, all of which contribute to increased learning. The ethic of caring, required by our profession, also means that we can see shifts in students and identify those who may need more support or interventions, keeping our students safe and healthy. 

To learn more about Take Charge of Your Teaching Evaluation and download a sample chapter, visit 

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