We are all students of one sort or another. One has to learn how to hang drywall. One has to learn how to balance complex budgets. One has to learn how to be a CEO. We learn and we keep learning. Working with students everyday I interact with many who are uninspired to learn. Perhaps it has to do with being told what to learn; perhaps it has something to do with what is being learned is boring; perhaps it has something to do with learning being irrelevant. There are some things we need to learn despite a lack or interest or relevance.
I often wonder how to get students to learn more deeply in more personalized ways. But somehow education has lost the curiosity of learning. So what do we as educators do to influence the curiosity of learning as students approach middle school and high school?
Learning, in its current state, is about what grade you can earn or how many points can you attain in particular course. Learning is really about curiosity exploring understand what you don't know getting this, how can educators still this curiosity of learning with in our students?
Remove the consequence of points and grades
This is the barrier between learning and playing the game of school. Educators have created a system by which students keep track of points to make sure they earn a specific grade. They want to earn points to keep two parties happy: the first is parents and the second is the teacher. Parents place undo importance on grades while ignoring what their child has actually learned because they believe that the grade reflects how well the child has learned particular standards. This is furthest from the truth because a grade does not reflect what students have actually learned, but reflects what students are willing to do to earn a number of points to get a specific grade.
In my classes I have removed the consequence of grades by telling students They have already passed the class on the very first day of attendance. I explain to them that what matters most is the progress they make in their learning over a length of time. And, when I explain this to them they quickly realize that learning is not about points and grades but about how well they are able to learn skills and reflect on how deep they have learned specific skills. Learning is no longer based on points and grades but on how deeply they can demonstrate their learning based on learning targets given to them.
Focus on reflection
Students in my class prove their learning not by turning in projects or by taking assessments, they prove their learning by completing a Google doc where are they reflect upon their learning. They rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 4 before they learned something– Meaning– How well they understand a concept before they learn it. Then, they go through a series of steps to learn a skill. After they have learned a set of skills, they rate their understanding of these skills on a scale of 1 - 4, and then reflect on how they know they've learned a set of skills.
This is tedious at first for students, but with time and practice they are able to reflect on their learning in more profound ways.
Give authentic feedback
Personalized learning is all about giving authentic feedback to students. Students may have a hard time making the adjustment from points and grades to feedback, but once they get used to it they thrive. They look forward hearing how much they have learned along with how to improve their work.. Giving authentic feedback is necessary to developing personalized learning.
Scott is an instructional coach for BBHCSD helping educators shift instructional practices to design effective, student-centered instruction in a 1:1 and blended learning environment. He presents and speaks to audiences locally, statewide, and nationally. Scott is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and Flipboard.
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