Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Evolutionary Idea: Students Opt Out by Opting In

A few weeks ago my elective class decided they wanted to work on their own projects. One group decided to create a video news show which worked very well. The other decided to do comedy skits. That one didn't work out so well. The problem was they liked the idea of doing the skits, but had no idea how to (or any desire to find out.)  As you can imagine, this was a problem.

I decided to go back to the normal lessons where I direct their learning. They were instantly back into their comfort zone and enjoyed the return to normal. Tuesday the students learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yesterday some of my students were expecting the same type of lesson on the death of John Lennon. I didn't have one prepared so I created one for today. When the students came in some were excited, others not so much. Really, this realization has become a game changer for me.

I realized that I could design lessons for the students, but I could also allow them to design their own lessons. So tomorrow we will begin plans to create a way for students to design their own lessons, their own learning. When a student isn't interested in a lesson I present, they will be able to pull out one they have designed (and reviewed with a conference with me) and work on it instead. Students will still be able to follow what interests them and opt out of what doesn't. We will be able to individualize learning and still get in the skills I want them to learn and because we will have set up guidelines (I am thinking a template using Google forms) they will not be left without a purpose, directions, or goals.

I will share the template and the students efforts when this gets rolling.