Incorporate their Interests #30GoalsEdu

Goal 20: Incorporate their Interests of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators! Click the link to find out more about the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators!

“For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.” —Plutarch, “On Listening to Lectures”

The saying goes we learn something new everyday, because learning is the easy part. Learning surrounds us and our reality and interests involve math, reading, writing, and science everyday. The problem is in the design and delivery. Governments worldwide have designed curriculums without any input from those who consume it, the students, and those who deliver it, the teachers. The curriculum is often determined by objectives that are measured by standardized tests and textbooks are the main tools that support the curriculum. Textbooks are not designed by students so they don’t usually relate to their interests or experiences. Teachers and administrators have most of the power when it comes to how the curriculum is delivered and many choose to deliver from the book because they are afraid of being punished if students fail standardized tests. The curriculum does not involve stakeholders in its design so it tends to be irrelevant and doesn’t tie into student interests. If input was incorporated, then students would make the connection to how what they are learning ties into their interests and world around them.

Perhaps as  teachers we cannot decide the curriculum but we can decide on how that content is acquired. We can walk into our classes and ask students how they want to learn the content and we can tie basic concepts and learning objectives to their interests. For example, all students must learn math but they do not have to complete all the problems from the textbook. They can figure out how the math they are studying relates to a field they are interested in. Let’s say they are learning geometry and you give them the task of tying the concept to one of their interests, then:

  • Johnny could investigate how various angles will determine success in various skateboarding tricks
  • Marisa could investigate how Justin Beiber’s concert setting is designed so that the sound travels and reaches the audience everywhere or how equipment is designed with shapes, etc. so no accidents occur

Both would be able to tie geometry or any other subject to their interests and would understand and view this learning in a new light. Both would see the purpose behind their learning.

For goal 20, I would like to encourage you to take one class period and decide to ditch the lesson plan. At the beginning of the class period, give students a few minutes to list their interests. If you want, you could give them categories like music, vehicles, professions, hobbies, movies, etc. After the students jot down their interests, explain to them the lesson objectives and have them try to find how what they are supposed to learn today relates to one of their interests. You can have them work in pairs. You can have them complete a concept map using an online tool like Popplet. You may want to give them some time to research this online. From this point, you can have them reveal their findings in a presentation,  project, or class discussion. Or they can simply turn in their concept map.

Short-term– Take one class lesson and tie the learning to student interests. This means we have to find a way to question students about their interests.

Long-term– Once you know what makes your students tick begin tying lesson objectives to these interests.

Important News


Incorporate students’ interests to what they are learning.

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

Be inspired with these Inspirational songs, videos, quotes, and more on my Pinterest board, Inspiration for World Changers!

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *