While Implementing Standards, How Can I Convert Knowledge to Action?

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WhileImplementingStandardsHowCanIHelpNewKnowledgetoConverttoActionStudents need to decide what to do with the new knowledge they have acquired. Teachers can ensure that opportunities are made for students to take initiative and that that the timing of instruction leaves room for reflection and personal projects.

For example, part of the national standards for social studies (World History, secondary education) is the following:

The student understands the global scope, outcome, and human costs of the war.
Therefore, the student is able to:

Explain the major turning points of the war, and describe the principal theaters of conflict in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, North Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. [Interrogate historical data]

Assess how the political and diplomatic leadership of such individuals as Churchill, Roosevelt, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin affected the outcome of the war. [Explain the importance of the individual]

Analyze how and why the Nazi regime perpetrated a “war against the Jews” and describe the devastation suffered by Jews and other groups in the Nazi Holocaust. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Compare World Wars I and II in terms of the impact of industrial production, political goals, national mobilization, technological innovations, and scientific research on strategies, tactics, and levels of destruction. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]

Assess the consequences of World War II as a total war. [Formulate historical questions]

If students really understand the importance of individuals in a conflict and analyze cause-and-effect relationships, they will at some point be touched by similarities with their current social/economical surroundings. How will this affect their behaviors towards others? How does it make them look at current events and their personal responsibilities in society? Now more knowledgeable about the content, will they make different decisions?

The standard alone does not address the “decision process” of students, once they have acquired the content. When teachers work with a more integrated approach, students are asked to react to the content and encouraged to share the impact it has on their personal experience and on their view of the world.

Discuss here: What are some strategies that you use, in order to encourage students to turn learning into action?

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