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Cedar Rapids: Getting Inspired by Real-World Relevance in Learning

Cedar Rapids Community School District has a well-defined Profile of a Graduate, or clear depiction of what a graduate of the district should know, feel, think, or believe; the profile focuses on ensuring that all Cedar Rapids graduates are ready for their chosen future path. One concern the team heard from students, however, was about the difficulty in drawing connections between subjects taught in class and the bigger, real-world meaning of that learning.

As a result, Cedar Rapids sought to more deeply embed connections to the real world and students’ futures in the day-to-day learning experience. The team researched examples of other communities that have had success in providing relevant, real-world learning experiences for students. From this research, the team sought to include multiple dimensions of relevance in learning – personal, academic, real-world, and cultural – in their designs for the future. Such an approach helps teachers adapt the learning to different students’ needs, identities, and interests.

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