In 4th grade, we were learning about the California gold rush. The teacher was Mrs. H and she had developed a game where each student began with a small amount of “money” and had to decide how to use it: investing in mines, buying supplies, and so on. There was also some chance involved: we would roll dice to determine the productivity of our mines, occurrence of weather events, etcetera. We were learning history content, specifically about California history in the mid-1800s, and we were learning this information because it part of the state education frameworks.
In a high school English literature class, we were learning about application of critical literary skills in other contexts, using film analysis as an example. Ms. K was the teacher and she had selected the film “Full Metal Jacket” for us to watch and analyze just after we had read and analyzed the book “The Things We Carried”. She asked us to look for some specific literary devices (such as foreshadowing and metaphor) in addition to visual devices (use of light and color) and auditory devices (use of silence, music, sound effects) as we watched the film, and asked us to use all of those components as our “evidence” in an argumentative essay defending our thesis, just as we had found evidence in the text to support our essays about the book. We were learning how to assess a film as a work of literature, and we were also learning how to apply our argumentative writing skills in a new context. We were learning these skills to be able to write appropriate essays for the AP exam.
In my current job, I learned how to put together a session to train informal educators in inquiry-based science education. I taught myself, using my own experiences as both a student and as a teacher, and using components from collaborations with classroom teachers as well as new research conducted online. I was teaching myself a skill — crafting a high-quality and useful training session — and I was learning it because I wanted to be a better resource for my team of colleagues and for our seasonal instructors.