Sunday, March 4, 2018

What conditions are critical to support learning and innovation?

For so long my classroom was taught around compliance and I never even thought about it that way. I have spent a lot of time refectly lately on who I am as a learner and who I want my students to be as learners. I learn best what I am self motivated, part of decision making, see my work as fulfilling and challenging and get to solve problems creatively all things Katie Martin points out in her book Learner Centered Innovation. If I learn best this way why would I not provide all these things for my students? A question I had not spent nearly enough time thinking about in the past. I am amazed at the difference in how my classroom culture has evolved when I plan keeping these things in mind.

This year I have tried to really change my mindset on how the student's in my class are learning. I loved the idea of teaching my students to be free thinkers and owners of their own learning, but in all honesty I had no idea what that would look like or how to provide that. Slowly by the use of Twitter, reading blogs and asking amazing eductors for help I have begun to understand more clearly what that means. A great example was just recently our students needed to learn about matter and to make things a little more difficult I had to teach it. In the past my grade partner would tackle science and I would take on social studies. The more we collaborated the more we felt the value in working together on both subjects. As a team we've talked alot about having a more student led classroom and this was a perfect opportunity to provide that! Each student was given a state of matter and would spend time learning about it and then give a 60 second elevator pitch on what they learned. After that they were grouped in a way in which one solid, one liquid and one gas were members of the team and instructed to find a way to demonstrate all three to the class. I was a little nervous about the direction they would take, but was completely blown away by what they came up with. Each group chose a demonstration along with an explanation of the states of matter. The best part was one of my reluctant learners, who seems uninterested in putting forth much effort in anything, was so excited about the project. He even said "Mrs. Erickson, this is the first time I have been excited about an assignment. I love this and want to keep doing it" followed by a "Science! Science! Science!" chant by the whole class. I think I found what my ideal classroom looks like!

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