Students Taking Charge of Learning
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Mrs. Roberts 4th Grade: Classroom Design with Choice

The purpose of this research video was to understand how student environment affects student behavior and achievement. Twenty-five 4th grade students whose a...
Heather Wehrle's insight:

Students taking charge of their learning does not stop with projects and activities.  This fourth-grade teacher reminds us that the physical classroom environment has an incredible amount of importance as well.  She allows the students to make individual choices about where to sit and work based on where and how they learn the best.  The best part is that she included the students in setting up the classroom the way they wanted it.  She promotes their choice in the classroom and allows them to make important decisions that impact their learning.  It is evident that her focus is on the students and their needs.  I hope that my future classroom can be as comfortable as this!  The students obviously love that their classroom is a relaxing and free place for them to learn.

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The Role Of Student Choice In Connected Classrooms - Edudemic

The Role Of Student Choice In Connected Classrooms - Edudemic | Students Taking Charge of Learning | Scoop.it
With the influx of technology into connected classrooms, the role of student choice has become as important as ever.

Via Rebecca Siegel
Heather Wehrle's insight:

I love this author's idea that as adults, we need to realize that young people are able to make decisions as well.  Instead of deciding that we always know best, we should give up some of our control in the classroom and allow students to have a voice in their own learning.  When we assign the same work to every student in the class, we are not giving them the individual opportunities that they need to grow.  Allowing students to make some choices about their own learning helps teachers to meet the students where they are at.  It gives the student an opportunity to take charge of their own learning and develop as an individual.

 

This is particularly difficult because this type of learning is not how we were raised in schools.  However, if we become carbon copies of how we were taught, positive change will never happen.  We need to realize that there are better ways to address the needs of students.  Using technology is a great way to allow students to make choices as well as teach them some 21st century skills.  As teachers, we should be preparing students for real life, where they will have to make important decisions that impact their own well-being.  The best place for this to start is in a classroom where they have teacher guidance and peer support.  I hope to create a community in my future classroom that allows students to make choices throughout the day and take charge of their own learning.  This is especially true of assessment: I want to assess students on what they actually know, not how good they are at taking tests.  Instead of always using the same summative assessments, I want to incorporate choice in how students share with myself and the class that they have learned the material, such as speeches, plays, posters, powerpoints, journal entries, ect.  

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Rebecca Siegel's curator insight, November 25, 2013 11:05 AM

By providing student choice in the classroom, their success will increase.  This article touches on the use of iPads in the classroom, which I think provide a great deal of choice in the classroom.  My mentor's classroom has two iPad Minis and we now allow them to pick their activity (within reading or within math) during their centers.  All of the apps on the iPad are approved by us, and by allowing students to select their own, they remain engaged and interested in the activity the whole time.

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School Spotlight: Foam boards help students understand math : Wsj

Cottage Grove students used their imaginations in creating model homes.
Heather Wehrle's insight:

This program is an example of how students can take charge of their own learning and use creativity, teamwork, and math skills to apply their learning to a meaningful project.  This project not only helped them strengthen their math understandings; it also taught them a real-world context where math is very prevalent as well as 21st century skills such as collaboration and investigation.  It is likely that these students now have much better spatial sense and are able to understand math in a new way.  Applying your learning to a novel and meaningful task is an excellent way to extend your knowledge on the topic and make it more long-lasting.

 

Activities like this one where students are able to think outside the box and create something that is entirely their own are ways to give students some control over their own learning.  While the teacher is there as a guide, the students are drawing their own conclusions as they run into problems and successes.  I hope that my future classroom can mimick this type of environment, where student learning is directed by the students themselves; my role is to guide them in a direction where they will be able to discover math and how it is relevant to our lives.

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Kids Share Their Thoughts on Student Engagement

Kids Share Their Thoughts on Student Engagement | Students Taking Charge of Learning | Scoop.it
A twelve-year teaching veteran and a California regional Teacher of the Year, Heather Wolpert-Gawron's musings on educational policy, curriculum design, and daily school life can also be read at www
Heather Wehrle's insight:

I like this article first and foremost because the content was derived from real students.  I appreciate this teacher's desire to give her students a voice in what they want to see happening in their classroom and their learning.  The ideas that they state are very reasonable and effective ways to enhance the learning of students.  In my placement classroom and my own future classroom, I hope to be able to offer my students engaging, real-world tasks that have them exploring solutions to real problems that we are facing today.  I think that project-based learning is an excellent way to incorporate all of the points brought up in the article.  It allows students to work together and do research on a real-world event or problem.  Choice can seamlessly be worked into these projects and they allow students to get up out of their seat and do their work how they choose.  I believe that project-based learning enriches student learning by allowing them to apply their knowledge to real contexts and anchor their new understandings in things that they already know.  I hope to center my own future classroom on project-based learning in order to engage my students and enhance their educational experience.

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Michelle Jin's curator insight, December 15, 2013 4:03 PM

I scooped this blog post from Heather's board because I thought it was a great reiteration of a more "implicit" message from an earlier "scoop" that I had found. The key to student engagement...is asking the students what engages them! It sounds so simple, and yet I find so many teachers (and honestly, even myself sometimes!) trying to assume too much of their students and throw out motivations that they think would be successful. By knowing one's students and their specific inclinations, instruction becomes much more effective because it is appealing to a tailored audience. 

 

In terms of teaching math, I thought it was interesting that the blog writer mentioned project-based learning (PBL). One student expressed, "What I think engages a student most is interactions with real-life dilemmas and an opportunity to learn how to solve them. Also something challenging and not easy, something to test your strengths as a student and stimulate your brain, so it becomes easier to deal with similar problems when you are grown up and have a job. Something so interesting that you could never ever forget." I thought this was a great point - that PBL gives students an opportunity to solve a problem that is real and exists outside of a textbook/classroom. Not only that, but students are able to learn certain math strengths that they will need in future concepts, as well as retain more of those strengths because they are actually applying them in a real world context. It was affirming to read how effective PBL can be in a student engagement and initiative, since this is a concept that has been talked about in many of my methods courses at UMD. 

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Student Voice and Choice: At Their Own Pace

Learner-Centered Education in Maine James H. Bean Elementary School, Sidney, Maine "We're starting to say, 'We're not going to let learning be determined by ...
Heather Wehrle's insight:

I love the idea of reforming our teaching to meet the needs of the students and teach the way they learn.  The classroom structure present at this school is very encouraging.  It allows students to learn at their own pace and have control over what they are learning at each time.  They are also given the freedom to teach each other.  I think this is a very effective means for helping struggling students; as stated by one of the students in the video, sometimes being taught by fellow students just makes it easier to understand.  This school is providing an excellent example of what it means to allow students to take charge of their own learning.

 

I hope that my own classroom can be one where blocks of time for specific subjects can give way to true learning.  Instead of teaching math, reading, science and social studies, I want to be teaching interdisciplinary literacy and STEM.  Our focus in teaching should always be on what is best for the students and teaching them how to know what is best for themselves.  This begins by giving them the opportunity to take charge of their own learning.

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9 Strategies for Motivating Students in Mathematics

9 Strategies for Motivating Students in Mathematics | Students Taking Charge of Learning | Scoop.it
Motivating students to be (enthusiastically) receptive is one of the most important aspects of mathematics instruction and a critical aspect of the Common Core State Standards. Effective teachers sho

Via Rebecca Siegel
Heather Wehrle's insight:

This article brings to light many ways in which we can help our students become more competent in math and gain ownership over their ideas.  Instead of teaching every detail, the author shows how the teacher can set up situations in which they can guide students to draw their own conclusions.  The role of the teacher as a facilitator and coach allows students to take charge of their own learning.  While it is difficult at first to strike this balance from a teaching standpoint, it is important that we learn to place learners in a spot where they are motivated by self-efficacy and their ability to generate ideas and conclusions.  Extrinsic awards are fine in most situations, but ultimately we want our students to have an intrinsic desire to do well in school.  This can come from giving them confidence and guiding them in their learning process.

 

Some of the strategies listed in the article are things that I have seen happen in my own classroom.  During math, we like to present our students with challenges that allow them to seek patterns.  I have seen the shift in motivation for my students when we place their learning in relevant and interesting contexts, which also illustrate the usefulness of the math to them.  We also do a great deal of "recreational mathematics", where students play games and solve puzzles to show how math can be fun.  If we can get our students motivated to learn and perform in math, they will be more willing to explore, take risks, and claim ownership over their own learning.

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Jennifer Callaway's curator insight, December 13, 2013 4:31 PM

These strategies are things that I've been witnessing my math methods teacher use all semester. In my classroom I'm trying to be more aware of the questions I'm asking and the language I'm using. Again, going back to creating a community of learners - presenting students with a challenge and having them find a pattern and using justifications with partners/groups promotes student engagement, interest, and discussion. This article has great suggestions for how I can go about doing these things in my classroom.

Michelle Jin's curator insight, December 15, 2013 3:42 PM
This article offers some great ideas in how to get students to fall in love with studying math. Not only did it list 9 innovative (but doable!) strategies to motivate my math students, it also harps on how teachers need to be able to choose wisely from this list to adjust to the specific motivations that are already present in my learners. I think it's easy to read this article and think that each of these strategies would be equally successful in any classroom; however, I'm reminded that knowing your students is the most effective strategy in motivating them. By doing that, you're able to know what engages them and what doesn't interest them as much. Although the author of this article did not write "knowing your students" as part of his 9 strategies, I was able to take away that important, and more implicit message that would help me to use the rest of his techniques more effectively. Another reason why I appreciated reading this article is that many of the strategies listed involve student discovery and initiative. For example, strategy #9 suggests teachers to "get students actively involved in justifying mathematical curiosities." Other strategies suggested were presenting students with a challenge that is within reach, discovering a pattern, or calling attention to a void in knowledge. All of these techniques are much less teacher-dependent, but put the learning responsibility on the students! As I have observed much from my own past experiences and my current student teaching internship, students seem to be able to learn and retain information much more when they themselves are the "doers" in the classroom, not just receivers of information.
Julia Lyles's curator insight, December 16, 2013 2:10 PM

Growing up I always struggled with math and never had any motivation to do it. Now that I am interning in a classroom I realize how important it is to motivate students to reach their full potential even in a subject they may not feel very confident in. I can motivate them in a number of ways including challenging them and building on their achievement. I never want my students to feel as though they can't do math. I want to give them a variety of strategies to motivate them and encourage their learning.

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Strengthening math, science skills while building bridges with the 21st ... - TriCities.com

Strengthening math, science skills while building bridges with the 21st ... - TriCities.com | Students Taking Charge of Learning | Scoop.it
Strengthening math, science skills while building bridges with the 21st ...
Heather Wehrle's insight:

This is a wonderful program that is enriching students' learning with 21st-century skills.  These students are being given the opportunity to collaborate with classmates and explore problems in their own way.  They are strengthening their inquiry skills and learning from their own mistakes.  It is this type of learning that is the most beneficial to our students and prepares them for a future in our society.  We are in need of a generation that is able to think up new ideas, and they cannot do this if we engrain the old ideas and methods in them.  Programs like this one are allowing students to take charge of their own learning and create their own conclusions about the world around them.  

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Our Cardboard Collaboration Celebration

Our Cardboard Collaboration Celebration | Students Taking Charge of Learning | Scoop.it
My 2nd grade GT class started working on their Global Cardboard Challenge projects yesterday, and I am so glad we are participating this year! I mentioned the Global Cardboard Challenge in a recent...
Heather Wehrle's insight:

This article brings up fond memories of my own elementary school GT (gifted and talented) class.  This class gave us the opportunity to explore complex problems and collaborate with peers to solve them.  During one semester, we used cardboard and other pre-determined objects/materials to create marble mazes with a goal in mind: you want your marble to go through as slow as possible without stopping.  The years I spent in GT developed my reasoning and critical thinking skills and gave me a passion for investigating the world around me.

 

Now, looking back on these experiences as a teacher, I wonder why all of my classmates did not get the opportunity to do these activities as well.  I believe that with the implementation of the common core curriculum, we will see activities like this one integrated more into mainstream classrooms.  They offer valuable experience in teamwork and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, and student choice and empowerment.  We should offer students engaging activities that allow them to make choices and take ownership over their work.  

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