Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Students Own the Learning

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This is one of my biggest goals for this year. I want students to be in charge of their learning. This is a philosophy known in education circles as "student directed learning."

The theory is that if the students direct their own learning process, they they "own it." That is, they are more invested in it, more motivated to do great job, and it's more likely that the learning will be more meaningful to them.

Of course, you can't give them total control. I have lots of things that I have to teach them. There are fifth grade standards, and it's important that they learn them. However, if I teach them in a more "student directed" manner, I think it will be more of a significant learning experience.

Here's an example of our first student-directed learning activity...learning about different types of non-fiction texts (memoir, atlas, almanac, etc.).

Here are the steps we're trying:

  1. Students choose 5 types of non-fiction they want to learn about.
  2. They complete the research on their own during stations time...they have to learn what they are, what you can learn from them, and any other info they feel is important.
  3. Finally, they have to choose a way to demonstrate that they've learned what they're supposed to (video, podcast, digital poster, wiki page, etc.)
We're "baby-stepping" our way into student directed learning, but I already like what I see. Students are engaged, working hard, and focused. They're in charge. They're in control. They're learning.

I'll keep you posted as we surge forward into this new style of learning. I'm excited to see what it turns into. Stay tuned!

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