“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch
To Clarify: What is Student-Centered Learning?
“The Glossary of Education Reform” classify student-centered learning through four “fundamental characteristics”:
- Teaching and learning is “personalized,” meaning that it addresses the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students.
- Students advance in their education when they demonstrate they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn (for a more detailed discussion, see proficiency-based learning).
- Students have the flexibility to learn “anytime and anywhere,” meaning that student learning can take place outside of traditional classroom and school-based settings, such as through work-study programs or online courses, or during nontraditional times, such as on nights and weekends.
- Students are given opportunities to make choices about their own learning and contribute to the design of learning experiences.
I see the definitions of one and four being particularly important when considering the approaches I will use during class time.
Some ways to support student-centered learning:
In my last inquiry blog post I asked anyone who had any ideas or questions to comment. Amy Lawson provided possible resources that could help me in my inquiry into student-centered learning. Amy suggested I check out Tony Stead for ideas on inquiry-based learning and Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels’ book, Comprehension & Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action.
Tony Stead and “RAN”:
Tony Stead’s “RAN” strategy can be supportive in inquiry-based learning. I found a blog post that Lorraine Boulos posted about how she uses the RAN strategy for inquiry projects in her classroom. You can model it at first, but it really helps structure the inquiry-based projects done around non-fiction work. This kind of work enables students to access knowledge through their own processes and constructions.
Here is a video that shares the ideas in Harvey and Daniels’ book. The books structures ways to incorporate inquiry into the classroom through inquiry circles. I like this because they level the kind of inquiry, so that it can be structured all the way to completely open. Heinemann, the publishing company, describes “Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action [as occurring] at the intersection of comprehension, collaboration, and inquiry and serves as a guide for teachers who want to realize the benefits of well-structured, student-led, cross-curricular projects” (2015). I would like to see how this resource could work for me.
Inquiry based learning and projects are a great ways to create a classroom environment that is student-centered, reflective of the learners, and allows students to have an influence in their learning. In the future, I would like to access the textbook by Harvey and Daniels, and do more research on Tony Stead’s approaches to inquiry-based learning. I think that these resources are a great start to my inquiry.