This week we have talked about what student centered learning means to you as well as how it might benefit our students. Like any instructional strategies it can be tough to implement all at once both for you and your students. How will you help teach your students how to handle and learn with student centered instruction? How do you frontload student centered lessons when planning?
In regards to the issue of implementation all at once, I suggest: don’t. If you are a traditional classroom teacher and your system is your comfort zone, don’t abandon it all at once or you will experience frustration. My suggestion is to start small with some student-centered activities. Then work your way up to flip a unit of study, then try some other student-centered approaches. Search for what is best for you. Each of us have our own styles and things that work well for us. Simply diving into some new style without dipping your toes in first, will likely result in frustration and/or failure. It could even make you shy away from student-centered approaches all together.
For my English Language Learners student-centered learning is not something that they are comfortable doing. Most of them come from teacher-centered learning environments. For that reason I begin slowly and work the activities into our routine. I usually begin with introduction videos using Flipgrid so that the students get used to providing their opinions. I use this tool throughout the year to get the student voice and to visually see their thinking on many topics. Little by little I flipped the environment from teacher-centered to student centered. It is amazing to see their transformation.
We talk a lot at the beginning of the year the year about what it means to be a problem solver with my littles (this is one of our character trait words as a school also!). I try to teach my students that while I am always here to help, I am not here to solve all the problems - that is their job too! I always have several students that pick up this mentality and really embody it on their own. For my students that need more support, I try to put any of their problems back on them and ask “What would a problem solver do right now?” Many times this will spark them to think on their own. If they are still not sure, I usually offer up a few suggestions for how they could proceed.
I think that this problem solver mentality not only prepares students for learning centered around their own instruction, but how to deal with conflict or problems in any situation.
I agree with this too. Becoming a problem solver is important. Not relying on me to solve any issue or answer all of the questions that come up.
I also want to work on something Ilearned this week in one of the virtual summits i have attended is quick student self assessment (and self reflection overall really). Asking students to use simple icons beside questions to say I got it I am okay I need a break : I need to talk to a peer I need some time
Students need to be able to evalate and assess their own learning, and determine what it is they need to do to persevere and to improve.
Now that I’m a trainer of teachers as a Digital Integration Specialist, I think that I will continue to instill scaffolding in my teacher with a lot of check points to check for understanding. Even though I’m teaching adults from varying ages, they are still learners.
I will allow for some level of student choice every class period. It could be the order in which they work a list of mini-activities, or free (math) choice after mandatory activities. It could even be student-selected groups or seating for a particular activity.
I also plan to have a mini-reflection (via Google Classroom) so students have input on what they’ve learned as well as what they would like to see/do in class. Their responses will help guide the activities that are planned.
I’ve set aside at least 10-15 minutes each 90-minute period for students to interact with one another. Sometimes it’s a Jeopardy review game, played in small groups, via jeopardylabs.com, sometimes it’s a card game, and yet other times it’s a ‘battle your neighbor online’ type of activity.
The thing I stress to my students all the time is that school is training - training for work, for further school, for life. So, as they keep that in mind it is important that they take responsibility for and have pride in what they do. To help them develop the pride in their work, I try hard not to give them anything that can be conceived as a throw away type of assignment - here today, finished, gone tomorrow…
I am really trying to instill a growth mindset. Especially in Math classes a lot of students have a fixed mindset and haven’t found the power of yet. I think formative assessment is an important part of this process and using backward design. I might sound like a broken record (students might not understand this expression haha) but building those relationships is a huge part of any student-centered learning.
I am experimenting with a backchannel this year - I heard of a platform called SoapBox. WIll be using this to have students reflect everyday or ask for clarifications. Check out Soapbox here. Seems pretty simple to use, Updates to follow…
This is what I focus on the first week of school for my 8th grade math class too @d.vendramin . I use the Youcubed Week of Inspirational Math. I emphasize a few of the Math norms the most: Collaboration, Communication and Struggle, though they are all important. I highly recommend Mathimatical Mindsets by Jo Boaler to anyone teaching Math.