I was introduced to a new term this year...Realia.
Our administrators emphasized the need to make learning real for our students by connecting to an everyday object. There is an education lingo for these objects--Realia. While this may seem obvious, I think it is important to point out that our students do need to touch, feel, see, smell, hear, or taste the objects they are studying. They need to experience the real thing! If your science lesson is about rocks, have a tray of different stones for students to touch and feel. If your lesson is about fruit, have a variety for students to taste and smell. Having these materials available adds an element of real, authentic learning for students. Giving a concrete connection is powerful; so next time students feel a rock or taste a piece of fruit they will remember the learning from the lesson.
Students are naturally curious; always asking questions, always wondering. They are even more excited to have their learning come to life with realia. For students of low socio-economic status they often have limited learning experiences, so providing this realia to help cement their learning is even more important. They likely do not have the opportunity to go home and experience the content of the classroom, so it needs to be provided to them during the lesson.
Education is filled with buzz words, acronyms, programs, and other “lingo” that is often confusing and seems to be constantly changing. And while realia may fit into this group; it’s ultimately about good teaching. Having materials, being prepared, bringing learning to life. Lets all make learning real.