Saturday, September 27, 2014

Having Your Students Take Ownership of their Learning

I am always trying to find ways to have my students take ownership of their learning.  One of the things I love about blended learning is that it allows students to work at different paces and at different levels.  The challenge though is that it means that not everyone is always doing the same thing at the same time.  As a teacher, it means there is more to monitor.  It also means your students have to take more of the responsibility for their learning.

One of the things I have learned the most in the last six years is that there is not a perfect student planner.  I feel like I have tried every student planner known to man.  I have also created every type of form you can imagine: forms with lists, checkboxes, etc. You can even read old posts where I have shared some of the versions I have tried over the years.

Source: Pinterest

The truth is as adults we don't all keep up with our schedules the same way.  Why would we assume our students would, too?  I created a Goal tracker form we used the first couple weeks of school.  I broke our day down into the time increments and they had to write down what they needed to get done in that block of time and then answer if they met their goal and why.  Some students really liked the form and kept up with it.

Source: Pinterest

After that, I gave them the option of using Edmodo as their planner.  Many of our students used Edmodo as their planner last year and really like it. You can read about the Edmodo planner here. This week we discussed they could now choose how they wanted to organize their week.  Some want to use the goal tracker form, some want to use a paper planner, some are going to use Edmodo, and some are using other calendars from their devices.

The part I think is most important for my students to learn is not just finding a planner that they like, but taking time to self-reflect at the end of the week to check in and ask themselves if they met their goals and why.  Do they need to make adjustments the following week?  I am having them write a paragraph on Friday afternoons as part of this self-reflection process. I am having them do this because I want to encourage that ownership process. They were submitting it to me; however, some complained that they felt the process lacked any real meaning.  So now I am having them write the paragraph as an email to their parents and they have to copy me. By including their parents, it gave the process more meaning.

I know the organization process is something I am still struggling with.  I love my Erin Condren Life planner.  I can't imagine not having it.  It is the figuring out how best to allocate my time during the week to have time for work, lesson planning, grading, blogging, working out, cooking, cleaning, and studying for graduate school.  I am still trying to figure out if I prefer studying in the morning or afternoon right after work.  I have tried later in the evening, but I am always too tired.  Maybe my students can figure out the process before I do.

How do you encourage your students to take ownership?  Do you have a favorite student planner?  Do you find ways to encourage self-reflection in your students?

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