10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning…
1. Don’t make all the decisions
Allow choice. Encourage students to make decisions about how they learn best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and practise skills in a variety of ways. Cater for different learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way. Integrate technology to encourage creative expression of learning.
2. Don’t play guess what’s in my head
Ask open-ended questions, with plenty of possible answers which lead to further questions. Acknowledge all responses equally. Use Thinking Routines to provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities.
3. Talk less
Minimise standing out front and talking at them. Don’t have rows of learners facing the front of the class. Arrange the seats so that students can communicate, think together, share ideas and construct meaning by discussing and collaborating. Every exchange doesn’t need to go through the teacher or get the teacher’s approval, encourage students to respond directly to each other.
4. Model behaviors and attitudes that promote learning.
Talk about your own learning. Be an inquirer. Make your thinking process explicit. Be an active participant in the learning community. Model and encourage enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and reflection. Show that you value initiative above compliance.
5. Ask for feedback
Get your students to write down what they learned, whether they enjoyed a particular learning experience, what helped their learning, what hindered their learning and what might help them next time. Use a Thinking Routine like ‘Connect, extend, challenge’. Take notice of what they write and build learning experiences based on it.
6. Test less
Record student thinking and track development over time. Provide opportunities for applying learning in a variety of ways. Create meaningful assessment tasks that allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish expressions of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience. Place as much value on process and progress as on the final product.
7. Encourage goal setting and reflection.
Help students to define goals for their learning. Provide opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide constructive, specific feedback. Student blogs are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers.
8. Don’t over plan.
If you know exactly where the lesson is leading and what you want the kids to think, then you‘re controlling the learning. Plan a strong provocation that will ‘invite the students in’ and get them excited to explore the topic further. But don’t plan in too much detail where it will go from there.
9. Focus on learning, not work.
Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Avoid worksheets where possible. Don’t start by planning activities, start with the ‘why‘ and then develop learning experiences which will support independent learning. Include appropriate tech tools to support the learning.
10. Organise student led conferences
Rather than reporting to parents about their children’s learning, have student led 3-way conferences, with teacher and parents. The student talks about her strengths and weaknesses, how her learning has progressed and areas for improvement. She can share the process and the product of her learning.
I know there are lots more ways. Please add to the list!