Thursday’s Tip: Let the Students Lead

Student presentation

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Teachers have a lot on their plates. The stress of the job is often compounded with the pressure to simply deliver an enormous amount of content. However, teachers shouldn’t feel alone in this endeavor. There is a classroom full of students who can help.

What I’m talking about is actually allowing students to deliver and teach content. We know that today’s student is particularly social, more than capable of creating their own assessments (with the right amount of guidance), and often knows more than we give them credit. Of course, structure is still important. We can’t just set them loose with the curriculum, but we can certainly share the work of delivering content.

There are various ways to structure students teaching content. Consider the following ideas:

  • Students can make instructional or informational videos that explain processes similar to this video

  • A cooperative learning strategy such as the Jigsaw cooperative learning strategy (yes, we love Jigsaw at eMINTS) provides a structure where students become experts in one area to provide perspective to a collaborative project. Sometimes, this strategy can be used to simply divide and conquer content, requiring students to teach one another their portion.
  • For those of you who are SMART Board users, the SMART Recorder that is part of the SMART Tech suite can record audio while a student demonstrates a process on a SMART Board. It’s ideal for math problem solving.

  • Peer tutoring can work well, but training must take place. Teach the process for delivering content to a small group of students who will turn around and teach that content to another group of students who will teach it to the next group and so on. The repetition provided by teaching the content over and over will strengthen the students’ knowledge.
  • Other approaches to delivering content may also include student-centered methodology such as problem-based or inquiry-based learning. These strategies provide students an opportunity to determine the direction of lessons and units, involving them in the planning and implementation process.

What are some other ways you have involved students in teaching content? How do you feel about giving up some control in order for students to teach one another? How is peer-to-peer learning addressed or not addressed through cooperative learning?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

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