Tag Archives: Student-Centered

Thursday’s Tip: Proof of Learning

GEAR BinderI’ve been thinking about this for some time.  But, you know how it is, there are things you think about doing in your class and things you ACTUALLY do and sometimes, those two things are separate.  I’m jumping in this year.  I see my students one day per week for our pull-out gifted program.  We study things in the news, we learn about things we care about, and sometimes, topics and questions literally just blow down in front of us like a leaf did last year which led to a study of the veins in the leaves.  Our studies… I define the objectives in my plan book. We set learning targets.  I ask them to set goals.  What’s missing?  The record of what IS learned.  Sure, I assess in lots of ways: walking around, observing, collecting projects, watching presentations.  What is missing?  The very record that could hold the key to it all: the record of THEIR thoughts.  I’m not talking about grades. In fact, I’m talking about the opposite of grades… authentic, meaningful assessment.   Enter the GEAR binder.

G: Goal-setting: No matter the topic, students set their goals. What do YOU want to learn about?

E: Engage: Engage and involve yourself in the learning. Reading, notes, projects, ideas, thoughts, photos, new words learned, questions thought of.  A literal record of engagement. How are you learning it?

A: Assess: Along the way, answers to questions asked by the teacher, questions asked by the student, proof that learning IS occurring. What did you learn?

R: Reflect: When it’s all said and done, what does this ALL mean?  We have to ask student to tie their learning to REAL life.  We have to allow them a chance to explore the connections, develop new thoughts, and plan for future studies, projects, and learning.  What do you think? (Connections, New Thoughts, Questions, Ideas)

Right now, these binders are just empty spaces with three rings.  In a few weeks? I am hopeful they will be filled with a student learning plan, a goal planning sheet, a parent comment log, a list of classroom research resources…. and more.  Possibilities? Scanning portions for a digital component.  Photographs of projects. Learning style survey results.  Student feedback from classmates. Independent self-managed projects. A living portfolio. Most of all?  They will be filled with proof… proof of learning.

Post by guest contributor Krissy Venosdale of TeachFactory.com. Veteran eMINTS teacher, gifted education teacherTweeterphotographer….. and that’s just her day job.Original post August 17, 2011 on TeachFactory.com.

4ALL: Student-Centered and Self-Directed Projects

When considering today’s post, I went searching through my Google Reader for articles and posts on student-centered instruction. The first result was a post in the New York Times educational blog The Learning Network. I remember reading the post in May and sort of forgot about it just as quickly. I checked it out again this week and thought it was worth sharing.

The post is about an experimental student-directed learning project. I’ll let the accompanying video explain.

There’s also an Op-Ed piece that goes into further detail.

Besides being stirred and inspired by the stories of the students in this video, one can pick out some valuable lessons in making our own classrooms more student-centered. The students featured were allowed to explore their own questions but were held responsible for teaching their classmates about these topics. Plus, allowing time for their own individual projects which were more ambitious than anything they would typically do in school showed that they had desire to learn, to be better students.

A good starting point for creating a project like this (or one with a few personalized adjustments) can be found in the original post cited above. As mentioned on Wednesday’s post, the New York Times is a great resource for lesson plans. The plan that goes along with this story is designed to help teachers facilitate student-directed projects in their own classrooms.

What do you think of the Independent project? How might this approach work in your class? What concessions would you have to make in employing this lesson?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and wishes he was able to experience the Independent Project when he was in high school.