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Student Directed Learning

February 20, 2012


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.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012 8:12 pm

    Keep up the good work and keep us posted. I am trying my best to do more student directed learning in my classroom. It’s a challenge! I’ve been trying to blog and tweet about it, too.

    I have 3 posts on it so far, if you’re interested:

    Thanks for blogging!

    • February 20, 2012 11:35 pm

      I will check these out for sure. Thanks for your kind comments. Let’s keep in touch and maybe we can help each other out along the way.

  2. Jen GW permalink
    February 22, 2012 5:09 am

    Wonderful idea to have the kids create the work. Metacognitive thinking at its best.

  3. February 23, 2012 12:51 am

    This is awesome. Have you ever shared this with high school or middle school teachers? If so, how transferable is it to higher grade levels?

    • February 23, 2012 1:40 am

      Thanks for the comment. I have spoken with many high school teachers via twitter. I do think it would work. Especially at that level where students should be more independent and have more control of their learning. I think about doing high or middle school at times. What do you teach!

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