20 Oct 2013

5 Hints and Tips for for Student Centred Learning

5 Hints and Tips for for Student Centred Learning

I always seek to have a student centred classroom.  I use technology to allow independence and self paced progression.  I believe successful classroom has elements of students leading their own learning and a teacher that has provided a framework to allow that to happen.  .  Five things that regularly come up for me as important in that framework are:

  1. Differentiated Learning Format According to Self Management Abililty
  2. Students Want Accountability
  3. Tech won't replace teachers
  4. Students enjoy a range of working mediums
  5. Individual Progress Wall Charts are Valuable


1. Differentiated Learning Format According to Self Management Abililty
If you work at one of the few schools that group their students based on interest or ability only then that is great I would like to know how it goes.  Most schools have classes grouped by age and this brings a host of issues with it.  I have students of multiple levels of maturity, thinking ability, self management, numeracy and literacy skills in my classes.  I have found that differentiating the learning based on how well students will self manage has been very effective.  
  • All students do the same work how ever the 'green' group let a lot of freedom and less "must show the teacher here" stuff, they have all the information for the whole task.  

  • The 'red' group sit up the front and get instructions in small bites and regular check in with the teacher tasks.

  • The 'orange' group sit in the middle.

Students will choose where they want to sit and are usually very good at this.  Occasionally they need some suggestion from the teacher to move groups and are usually happy that the evidence for this is in their work anyway.


2. Students Want Accountability
Students want to know what is going to happen to their work.  They want to know that there is some point to putting their hard work into producing something.  I have used e portfolios for this and believe it is a great way to add in accountability as family at home can see it and comment on it, peers in the same or other classes can comment on it.  Also posting to youtube works well for that too.  I like being able to put up any student work on the projector and hold them accountable that way to show others examples of what to do.

Something at the end is essential and they need to know before they start, putting it up on the wall, or speaking in front of the class.  If they feel there is not point in putting in effort then they won't.


3. Tech Won't Replace Teachers

I used a semi flipped classroom format recently and posted a lot of instructional videos and content online with the goal of myself not having to spend time giving instructions and repeating myself.  Thus freeing myself up to interact with students one on one.  

It may have come down to the quality of some of my content, however I found that students didn't understand simply from watching the online content.  They always still had questions and needed some one to bounce ideas of or quality check.  I regularly found that students had spend an entire hour doing the wrong thing as they misunderstood the task.

What I loved about this though was that I did get a chance to spend quality time with individual students and see where they are at and where they needed to go.


4. Students enjoy a range of working mediums
Simple and easy to forget.  Students can get very bored doing the same sort of thing over and over no matter how good it might be too much of a good thing is bad.  In the future I will be using individual work, team work, online creation, sculpting, podcasts, drawing, writing, class discussion, student centred, teacher centred, student teaching etc.  It is easy to forget the introverts in our classrooms, I do identify with them.  Chuck Sandy has ways to make things easier for them here.  Alternatively I strongly support using team work as a way for students to develop thier social skills and here is 10 Do's and Dont's for Group Work


5. Individual Progress Wall Charts are Valuable

This is important particularly with self pacing programmes where students will progress at varied rates.  I believe there is strong motivation for them to 'see' really tangible when they progress.  It can help a lot with goal setting and students gaining the understanding of managing their time and dead lines.

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Campbell Potter (@campbellpotter) Teacher at Dilworth Boys, Promoter of Paperless Classrooms, 21st Century Learning, Outdoor Educator, Digital Citizenship Pinterest, Blogger of Digital Learning and Team Building. New Zealand