About six years ago, I decided that I needed to make some changes in my classroom. I had a desire to better meet the needs of my students. One of the shifts that I've made (and am still making) is moving towards an, even more, student-centered classroom and integrating technology. Although I've taught 29 years, I'm still learning and improving my practice.
This is a simple blog post for some of my colleagues that want to know how to start shifting their classroom towards a more student-centered, 21st-century classroom. There are books and articles galore that explain the research and the why’s. The purpose of this post is to show teachers something EASY that they can do tomorrow!
Choose ONE lesson and teach it without a worksheet. I know. Worksheets are cute and comfortable. It’s a security blanket because teachers have used them for so long. Notice that I said to get rid of the worksheet, not paper. Learn how to make a simple foldable and brainstorm ways that
you can integrate it into your content area.
Divide your class into small groups of about four. Give each group a section of the flip book to teach.
Let them DECIDE how to present the content and what their classmates should include in each section. As the students COLLABORATE, walk around and interact with them by asking them questions about their thinking.
Give them time to work together. Celebrate their presentations! Build their confidence. Moving to a student-centered learning classroom is a shift for the students as well. Celebrate their efforts!
Don’t grade this project. Focus on feedback while the students are working. Take a FEW anecdotal notes.
After students finish this project, have them REFLECT on their learning. They could even write their reflection on the back of their flip book.
Wahlah! You took a risk and tried something new! You gave your students choice, allowed them to collaborate, and had them reflect on their learning. Now it’s your turn! What went well? What could you tweak? How did your students respond? Take a moment to reflect on your lesson. Ask yourself how you could give your students more choice, time to collaborate, and reflect on their learning.
Making the shift from the teacher and teaching to the student and learning is a process. My suggestion here is just a step in the right direction. It's only a start. There's so much to learn! Challenge yourself to start on this journey!
I would love to know what you're doing to move towards a more student-centered classroom. Tell me how it's going! For those of you that would like a great book to read with tons of examples and explanations, I'll recommend Learn Like A Pirate by Paul Solarz. His expertise and insights will give you a glimpse of what a classroom focused on learning vs. teaching looks like and can be.