Round Table Webinar: Student-Centered Learning

Looking forward to our webinar later this week, in which @apadilla, @mlschnick, @david, and I talk about student-centered learning. We’d love to have other @informed_members and @Certified_Educators tune in and share your thoughts about the questions! Take a look at the below and let us know:

What else should we include? What, if anything, should we take out? Would you like to join us?

We’d love to hear from you! Please tune in before or after the chat, and of course, let us know if you’d like to join the webinar!

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:


@new_members @informed_members @Certified_Educators You’ll be able to watch the webinar below!


Hoping to join in for this. Doing a lot of work with blended and personalized learning this year with Highlander Insttiute!


I‘m interested in how you handle disturbancies and what you can do to reduce distraction. How will the students keep their motivation and pace?


Thanks for bringing up this question, @michael.lutz ! We’ll definitely make sure to discuss it in the webinar and continue to discuss it here :slight_smile:

I wish I had been a part of this live webinar! Here is what I would have said if I were involved. :slight_smile:

Intro – I am currently an Algebra 1 teacher (formerly middle school math, 3rd grade, alternative school grade 6-12 math)

1 – Kids in general don’t like to fail. Instilling growth-mindset is hard because students don’t want to fail AND they don’t want to work too hard, a.k.a ‘think.’ Breaking students from just ‘doing as their told’ and transitioning them into being active thinkers in charge of their learning is tough and scary for students. Providing an atmosphere where mistakes are okay is crucial to student-centered learning.

2 – @mlschnick , I totally agree with the setting up kids to ‘fail.’ Making mistakes is how we learn. [MATH - Math Allows Thinking to Happen] I purposely set up problems where there’s more than one way to get to the answer, or where there’s even more than one answer possible. I also believe that student choice is a big component in student-centered learning. I recently had three out of five classes as ‘repeater’ classes; they failed semester 1 so they are repeating that section of content. There were lots of behavior problems at the beginning because they assumed my class would be just like their other math classes they’ve ever had. Once I introduced my ‘tracking’ sheet to the students, behavior problems became a non-issue. The tracking sheet took all the concepts for the semester and grouped them into several learning strands. Each strand built up to the test(s). Students got to choose which strands they worked on. If they were on a roll for strand 1, they could keep going in that strand for that day. If they got ‘burnt out’ or started to get lost at a certain point they could switch strands. The only set criteria was completing X number of GoFos per day. :wink: – Feedback is another important component for student-centered learning. I love Formative for the immediate red/green indicators, but also because I can give more specific comments as feedback in the assignments. @david, hopefully, Formative opens up the ability for students to reply to that specific feedback.

4 – There are several challenges with student centered learning in math – math is fairly linear; you have to know X and Y before you can learn Z. I agree with @brent.hall about not having enough time for students to explore, learn and share. Time is my absolute worst enemy given my student population. {Two out of three students are truly not ready for Algebra 1, but the state requires them to take the class their Freshman year.) I also agree with @mlschnick about meeting all students’ needs, especially when they are at such different learning levels. I find that if there’s enough of ‘me’ to go around, then I don’t have behavior issues. I tell the students that Formative is like having a mini-Mintner on their shoulder telling them if they are right/wrong. I also agree with @apadilla about freedom & distractions – In my repeater classes they had the freedom to choose their strands as well as the freedom to choose when they were ready to test. Unfortunately, it was harder to tell when they were on-task because everyone was doing something different. Phones and music became a problem early on, so I had to have students earn the privilege of music daily! They couldn’t listen to music until they had completed one GoFo with at least 70% accuracy. I found that it helped them focus on getting started, and once they finished one, they were more likely to continue working even with their earbuds in. @mlschnick , you asked for suggestions for online ‘paper airplanes’ – What about having one Google doc with a table of problems or links to other Google Docs? Each group is assignment a problem to work. When time is called, digitally ‘throw’ the plane by clicking the ‘next’ hyperlink at the top/bottom of the page. Students can add comments/suggestions/corrections to the work that’s there. You would just have to make sure that the sharing options are set right so students can have editing rights and so you don’t force ‘new copies’ each time the document is opened. You would also have to have a new set of documents (and links) for each class – or be prepared to save a copy of the work before you ‘clear’ it for the next class.

5 –I’m going to attempt to gamify my class next year by turning the tracking sheet into XP and having students level up (similar to @mgarcia). I also would like to make a digital version of the tracking sheet with hyperlinks to my GoFos that allows students to have their own personal copy that can be ‘filled’ in with color as they complete assignments. I’d also like to explore alternative forms of re-assessment for those who failed the paper/pencil version the first time; on paper, orally, using whiteboards, make a video presentation, etc. (Other ideas that would be conducive to math are welcomed.)


awesome stuff @tricia.mintner! I would love to see specific examples of how you gamify your class next year!


I’ve been brainstorming since I posted about this webinar! :heart_eyes: I want to make it enjoyable for the students to spark and fuel engagement, but also needs to be manageable for me. I anticipate more struggling students next year than this year. I’m hoping to break down the ‘I hate math’ walls while building confidence and math knowledge… fingers crossed that it helps me keep behavior in check as well. Formative was able to help me keep my strugglers more engaged this year, so I’m hoping that combining it with gamification will work even better next year. I’ll keep you posted!


Allowing students to choose between strands sounds like a great strategy to support student choice and standards-based learning. I like how you encourage completion. I bet this gives you a more complete picture of what every student knows each day, regardless of whether they get things right or wrong. I think this helps foster growth mindset in students!

We are definitely strongly considering developing the ability for students to reply to specific feedback :slight_smile: Thanks for the feedback! We record every piece!

This is so awesome! I’d love to see how this turns out!

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Even in high school I have found that I have to teach the students how to demonstrate how to show how to work a problem and to respond to other students.

How do you embed a Flip Grid in GoFormative?


This is such a challenge. So many students aren’t used to this approach, and because the expectation is that they spend the majority of the time working and thinking, which is challenging, many will resist the move and it can be very difficult to persevere long enough to get all students onboard.


So many awesome topics here! I am part of a PBL cohort at school, myself and another 5th grade teacher partnered and there was a 2nd grade co-teach, this was our first year. Our students were very nervous, apprehensive and I’d say confused by the freedom, within a set goal, and choice they had at first. They made huge gains in confidence, self monitoring and collaborating as well as academics. The 2nd graders didn’t have those fears, they just jumped right in! I think that shows it is possible for them to persevere but we need to have the expectation. As we move to student centered as the norm our students will thrive.

The other point I highly agree with is allowing students to struggle and “fail” safely. Always allowing them to use it as a growth opportunity, not the end of that learning journey.


I was not able to attend the F2F webinar but am grateful it was recorded.
I am following the lead of @tricia.mintner.
I teach Family and Consumer Science, Hospitality, Nutrition, Culinary, Career & Technology to 7-12th graders. I saw the movie Auntie Mame when I was about 12 and it has stuck in my brain main entire life. I found out that Montessori schools are pretty much student centered which is what I think the school was in the movie. Way back then as a learner I was attracted to the idea of learning by exploring and creating. In the past two years I learned about Makerspaces. Most of the time when I hear people talk about these they do it in regard to technology. I always think about all things in a theme or space that could be used to create something to represent understanding or view point.

  1. I try not to talk more than 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class. I try to have a plan and resources in place for my students to take off on their own. I encourage feedback from them for improving the lesson, I give one on one assistance to those who need it, but a rule of thumb is once I teach someone I call them the master teacher and have them show the next person who needs help. Then there are two and so on. I have six tables of 4 students each. So the goal is always to end up with a master teacher at each table. My students love becoming the master teacher. My room is pretty active and can look like chaos, but I like students to have an option to choose where they sit or stand and learn.
  2. As I listened to the webinar, it made think about ways to create makerspaces with Go Formative. I am sort of thinking of a Bingo / Choice board. If I created a hyperdoc bingo board it could take students to additional tools or instruction to create something to represent their understanding. I model exploration in front of my students so they see how I do it and see that it is no so scary to make mistakes. It can even be fun @mlschnick
  3. I like using open responses to help students gain confidence in their voice and being able to discuss “why this answer”. I want to have students do blogs this year so I think this will help the process. @mlschnick
  4. Dealing with wifi can be an issue. We have chromebooks and desktops. Students can work on desktops within Microsoft if needed but if their things are stored on the internet then we have problems. I always try to have a plan B, C, and D in place. If I don’t get the students engaged within 5 minutes or so then things go south.
  5. hmm… using a playlist/checklist or self-assessment so students can follow a path for “I have completed the …. And feel confident I can move on”. Differentiate by providing supports with links within the lesson and activities. Using Blendspace as a “stop” on the playlist. I would like to do a genius hour too. I have been learning about them over the past year or so. I want my students to practice entrepreneurial skills which I think could be done in a genius hour.
    I use and share rubrics with my students I think it helps both of us to be on the same page. I try to have my students score their work to see what they are thinking. They are pretty honest and I can see it someone is living in a dream world or don’t realize their work is better that they think. I have learned though. Less lines to score are better. I started doing a feedback rubric.

I use Kathy Schrock’s resources on a regular basis, they are pretty incredible.

Who has the Oil Spill Activity? @brent.hall or @apadilla I would like to look at it and use it I think…

@mgarcia has fantastic resources all over the place. Check out her blog: Teaching Above the Test Quests – Digital Poster, Cartoon, 3D example, Google Draw


ummm - it’s gonna be disturbed :slight_smile: You are probably going to want to scaffold the release of your reigns on class. That way you can train your students on the new normal and freedom to learn. Have engaging opportunities for students to create and choose to work together or alone. A chance to be the star of the show by presenting is a good idea. Discovering where each students exploration confidence is a little tricky. It all comes down to training and don’t freak out if kids are moving around and excited. To set the room up you can always turn some lights off - I do that if the atmosphere is a little lit. Music is good - I use this as an opportunity to being in music they may have never heard. The classics of course - and I give them a little bio via wiki just because it’s quick - like super quick a minute. I took a World Music on Coursera and learned some crazy stuff, digeridoo, Mongolian throat singing :slight_smile: I set the tone for exploration and collaboration. :slight_smile: I play Enya if I want them to be quite and focus on something by themselves or if the building atmosphere is stressed.


You can learn how to embed a Flip Grid and more here.
Also - Microsoft recently bought Flipgrid so everything is free now!!!

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@mgarcia shared a really good tool for grading and sharing rubrics at What do you use to assess your standards? (Standards Based Grading).

I’ve used the Bingo/Choice Board in my classes before, but it was paper/pencil. I think a digital board would be a great idea to add to my class this year. :slight_smile:

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Thank you for sharing this webinar. It confirmed some of my thoughts about student-centered learning. In particular, I enjoyed the discussion about how students can be reluctant at first to engage in student-centered learning as they are use to teacher-focused instruction and how school has been done - teacher gives, student gets.

It made me consider how student-centered learning is challenging students to think critically as they take responsibility for their learning. I am reminded of the adage “spoon-feeding only teaches you the shape of the spoon.” This has sparked some new ideas as I ponder how I want student-centered learning to look in my classroom.

I appreciate the ideas shared by all participants about how Formative supports student-centered learning. I’m looking forward to trying some of these ideas this coming school year. Thank you!


You are very welcome! I really enjoyed that part of the discussion too! I know that taking a student-centered approach can be daunting and am so happy to see all the ideas that are being in our slow chat this week! Shout-out to @freymuge @Dawn_Frier1 & @tricia.mintner for leading the way with it!

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