Application of Content Knowledge

The fifth standard of the InTASC model, application of content, states that teachers must incorporate differing perspectives to connect content that will engage learners and promote enhanced critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem-solving skills in a deliberate effort to integrate educational material that is relevant to both local and global issues. Teachers who effectively model the components of this standard will use knowledge of their discipline to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to learning that creates meaningful educational experiences for their students and subsequently promote intrinsic motivation to keep students passionate about learning throughout their academic experience. Furthermore, the most successful educators will ensure that varied approaches to learning can take place in environments that safely permit exploration, pique student curiosity, and allow students to grow and develop into the best versions of themselves. It is critical that teachers use their knowledge about best practice methods to ensure all students are given the best possible opportunities to be successful not only in their academic endeavors but also in their social and developmental goals, too.

Although there are countless tools and strategies for creating meaningful learning experiences for students, one particular strategy I try to use frequently is to ensure students get hands-on learning experiences often. Giving students tools and objects to manipulate in order to watch processes unfold quite literally in their own hands greatly increases the likelihood that information will be retained. My third-grade students and I recently conducted some science experiments and their results can be seen in the image below. The “Bravo Board” is a tool we use to celebrate exceptional work done by students in our classroom, and every student received an A in one or both of these hands-on experiments. Using hands-on strategies for teaching as well as celebrating students’ efforts and accomplishments as a class promotes enhanced educational achievement and the students’ sense of community within our classroom [5c].

I also try to spend time at the beginning and end of each lesson to discuss why we are learning specific things and how they relate to the world around us. For instance, we’re currently studying the water cycle which presented a great opportunity to talk about the importance of keeping our waterways healthy and reducing our consumption of water. Although the core of the lesson was focused on the stages of the water cycle I was able to engage their critical thinking skills by asking questions that require them to evaluate cause and effect relationships, consider solutions to problems that are not always obvious, and allow them to dive into their own creativity to foster learning [5d]. Another component of the application of content standard we used in this lesson was producing original work; below, six examples of students’ water cycles can be seen on display. In this activity, students got to not only see the stages of the water cycle but actually know that they, themselves, had created a model for mimicking fantastic processes that occur on a massive scale on planet Earth [5o]!

Additionally, it is critical to give students the opportunity to expressive themselves and let their individuality be a part of their learning experience. The social studies assignment seen below required students to create their own island, a set of laws that would be enforced on their island, and discuss who would be in charge of the island. This activity forces students to consider major topics such as rules compared to laws, democracy as opposed to dictatorships, as well as ethics and other topics [5h]. Using these types of versatile activities in the classrooms is yet another way I have incorporated the key components of the application of content standard into my teaching strategies. In summary, the purpose of the application of content knowledge standard of the InTASC model is to ensure teachers are constantly striving to incorporate innovative tools and strategies for enhancing student learning into their own teaching style repertoire and this must include cross-disciplinary methods that foster individual student growth and development, a focus on local and global issues, and enhancing students academic experience by applying what he/she knows about the learner and learning processes.

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