How do you provide a more student-centered environment when your curriculum is 'locked'?


@informed_members & @Certified_Educators we will wrap up our slow-chat on student-centered learning with this final question. Thank you to @freymuge and @Dawn_Frier1 for leading daily discussions, as well as to @david for putting us all together . I hope this week has inspired to you try some new things in your classroom this year.

Yesterday we looked at ideas for HOW to allow for more student choice/input via student-centered learning under a strict curriculum path. Today we dig a little deeper… WHAT do you do, specifically? Feel free to share ideas and resources to help those taking their first steps towards student-centered learning.

My Experience
As mentioned before, the curriculum is set in our district. We teach our units in the same order for all five public high schools. I have some flexibility, as I can teach concepts within the unit in the order I feel best. I have latitude for how I teach those concepts. As such, I try to offer a variety of activities within the classroom in order to meet all my students’ learning styles throughout the term.

Yesterday, @myersl suggested HyperDocs and even shared some examples. After some thinking, I believe that my self-pacing guide IS a HyperDoc, just not so colorful and eye-catching. One of the HyperDocs Lonnie shared was a specific pathway, where students did all the activities, in order from left to right. @mgarcia and @msashlylcot have created diverging (and re-converging) pathways within their HyperDocs. My self-pacing guide combines both: like Lonnie, I expect my students to do all the activities in order through each of the strands, but like Mariana and Ashley, I allow students to choose the order in which they work the strands.

I teach the concepts according to our district map, but I also expose students to some pre-requisite skills along the way and students may choose to work on those concepts in addition to the current concepts. My criteria is that students complete X number of ‘steps’ (activities) per day in order to be able to complete all the ‘steps’ prior to our midterm and final exams. Students also have the choice to retake tests as concepts ‘click’ for them.


I like the idea of a self pacing guide and a HyperDoc. This has me thinking about how I can create this experience for my students. We have 16 topic areas and a jillion objectives. This idea might give me the “freedom” the students and I need so that everyone can work independently and students can practice and process towards mastery. It is kind of like jeopardy - students could jump put in faith thinking they could go for the big bucks and then discover they have to start in a different category or lower level.

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That’s exactly why I use the pacing chart. I took my standards and separated them into topics (strands) and then decided the order in which I would teach them so that the strand built from easiest to hardest. I also decided the number of ‘steps’ and the ‘common errors’ for each learning target and made a Formative/activity for each step/error. If a strand requires concepts from a different strand it’s added as a step in that strand (see Strand E above). Each day we have a learning check and that mini formative assessment tells me which steps and errors that kid makes… what they are ready to work on and what I need to go over with them again 1 on 1 or in small groups. If a student shows mastery on the LC for a particular step/error, I allow them to ‘exempt’ (skip) that mini assignment. I decided to upload that pacing chart to Formative so I had a quick reference for where students are in the process. (more details here)

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