July 11, 2017

Student-Led Learning: Celebrate Good Times, Come On!!

Student Centered, classroom climate, classroom design, students as leaders, celebrate learning, fearless learners

You may be joining me for the first time or you may be joining me by following along in this series of posts about Fearless Learners, but I welcome you all to the CELEBRATION!  Yes, that's Step 6 in the books we've been enjoying this summer-Celebrate!  It's time!

Sutton and Westberry have done it again in this chapter!  There is no way you can't get through this text without knowing, deep down inside, that you can do this thing, this Student-Led Learning thing!  You feel grounded and passionate and READY even with so much to think about and/or prepare!  That is something to celebrate!!

But, be prepared!  You will meet resistance and get "those" looks!  It happened to me at a recent inservice.  I just mentioned the Student-Led Learning model at my last inservice to my table teachers and two things happened.  The younger teacher turned to her computer and started looking at the dieting website she was exploring and the older, almost retired teacher rolled her eyes.  This was NOT the first time in these four days this exact thing happened with the two of them!  The whole premise of the inservice SCREAMED Student-Led Learning and each time one, if not both, said, "My students could NEVER do that!" Why, you ask-they were from Title 1 schools!   Yet, research shared in Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana points to something else!  You see, I'm making a connection here that Student-Led Learning falls into the category of creating divergent thinkers!  It IS the ability to generate a wide range of ideas, options, hypotheses, and possibilities!  It is the combination of convergent thinking and metacognition!  It is all of this and more!  So, what do they say about the students that these teachers were speaking of?  Here's what they found, "Divergent thinking is almost always seen as a gift rather than an acquired and developed skill.  But this view is far from the truth:  divergent thinking is a distinct form of higher-order thinking that can be taught to all ages and all students....low academic performance showed an ability to learn divergent thinking and gained greater self-confidence in their overall abilities the more they practiced."  Let's celebrate THAT!  Stop thinking that your students CAN'T and let's celebrate that research says THEY CAN!  Give this model a try-it may very well surprise you and your students!  

And, with that, I am a little perplexed right now as to HOW I'm going to celebrate successes.  I have to say, this has always been my weak spot.  I always give high-fives, etc. as students learn, but it is important within the class for students to celebrate each other.  So, my first week I'm going to practice what I've read and let some control go over all the steps in this process.  I am going to recruit the help of my students to develop a plan for this.  It is leaving me with a pit feeling in my stomach, but it's my first big step into what I can't see.  And, yet, I know I will be celebrating the awe of seeing my new third graders make decisions that will impact us for the whole school year! After all, it is their class, not just mine!  

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment with your successes or even your fears about this process!  It's going to be an awesome journey this school year, so stop back by!  I'm not even ready to end this this summer, so expect more posts as ideas and new knowledge found comes my way! 

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