Student Directed Learning
My memory of my elementary years is spotted at best. I seemed to have blocked out most of my k-5 experience. Having been clear on my lack of memory, I don’t remember ever creating something that was used by my classmates or even shown to the entire class. Rightly so, most teachers I know now have plenty of share time in their classrooms. I am no different. I love it when my students bring something in to share. I wanted to take that student eagerness and use it as a tool in the classroom. About 3 weeks ago, I was doing a word study lesson when 2 students came up to me and said they wanted to do a specific worksheet that they did the year before. I thought about it for a second then told them to make it for the class. That split second decision has rocked my classroom. I am not a worksheet teacher. I use worksheets in the classroom at times but I tend to shy away using them too often. But, worksheets created by students is a whole different ballgame. Not only did those students create that worksheet, I now have a folder filled with worksheets created by almost everyone in my class. That is right. My students are making their own worksheets and are smiling from ear to ear when their classmates complete them. Here are a few (click on the pics to get a better view):
As of today, I have 47 student created worksheets. In addition to the 47 worksheets, I have a simple machine review packet developed by 3 students. They are not perfect. They have spelling mistakes. Some have had to re-evaluate the purpose of the activity. But this is real. This is authentic. They are applying the knowledge they have learned by reconstructing it to help their fellow classmates. The students are directing all of this on their own. I did not make a rubric. I did not assign them to do this. They want to do it. They have slowly built a rubric of their own. They are holding each other accountable for the work that is being created. They are grading the sheets on their own. They are helping one another complete the assignments. They are directing their own learning. They are completing these on their own at home, during recess, lunchtime, enrichment time, and class time.
I am always trying to make classroom activities more engaging and authentic. The problem was it should not be me solely trying to do that. I continue to learn that it is a joint effort between the teacher and the students. And more importantly it is a collaborative effort by the students with the teacher there to facilitate the magic.