What does it mean for students to play an active role in their education?
To me, student control means students know what they should be getting out of a course, they should be allowed to highlight areas of interest that they can research more deeply, and have a say in how they are assessed for their content knowledge (they can pick a project format). I believe students playing an active role is important because it gives them ownership of and responsibility for their own learning, and it can increase engagement if they are able to have some say.
In a nutshell “active role” means doing rather than receiving.
Choosing – Prizing – Acting
Observing, comparing, classifying. hypothesizing, interpreting, identifying assumptions, problem
solving … THINKING SKILLS.
Planning, making, deciding, evaluating.
Copying, listening, viewing
Every person in the classroom (including the teacher) should be recognized as both a learner and a teacher for the duration of the course/year. The teacher will obviously play a significant role assuring curriculum outcomes are met, but the teacher will be seen more as a facilitating guide in the learning experience.
If the outcome is getting from Vancouver to Toronto then it would be the teacher’s responsibility to provide students with the resources needed, but students themselves would create their own journey to get there. Some might take the Trans-Canada direct while some might take the opposite direction and go over the Pacific-Asia-Europe-Atlantic route. Some might write and play a song and others might meet the outcomes with a detailed diagram. No matter what the student chose to do it would be the teacher’s responsibility to monitor the progress towards the outcome and making sure the student can rationalize and support their route is heading towards it. If the student is unable to demonstrate this then the teacher would need to step in and draw out some discussion with the student to get them back on track.
Students take ownership for their learning which benefits the overall learning experience for both the teacher and the class.
Students can learn how to write a criterion reference for their work. They can choose from among a list of optional assignments to achieve the same learning outcome. They can select from among a number of options HOW they will demonstrate their learning and their level of competence. They can choose to learn (and here is where learning styles enter the picture: I am quite comfortable with online learning, whereas my daughter prefers a classroom setting and interactions with classmates)via a computer or other digital device, in small groups within a classroom, or individually with an instructor. Students are very much aware of what comprises the best learning structure for themselves; we need to respect that, and allow them to to choose.
Last year we created six public forums on Personalized Learning; some of the best input we received was from students (not specially-selected students, but student we dragged in from the corridors). We are planning a day on Personalized Learning that is JUST a forum for students.
A contribution to the discussion – we just had a parent/teacher/student conference last week for my child in grade 5, who is in a grade 5/6/7 split this year in elementary school. Her teacher is a former middle school teacher. He was stressing the ability to work independently and reliably, and talking about ways in which the students can show their growth in these areas, such as asking questions when they don’t understand things, who to ask questions of, making sure they have appropriate materials for class, actually doing the work in a timely manner, and what to do when you don’t.
These are terrific steps to students to start to take ownership of their learning process. I especially loved how he encouraged parents not to check the student’s planners for them each day – that is their responsibility.
I think it’s very important for the students as they take a more active role to be guided in how to do so – passion for a subject isn’t as effective as knowing how to work.
It is important for students to be enaged in their education. Sometimes students aren’t actively enage in determining their education because often our education system do not provide oppertunities for students to express their opinions. Once I volunteered in and all candidates meeting where parents come and address questions to the candidates. They talked about improving the infrastructure of our school and said our education system is for the students but what was extremely frustrating was that there were NO students present in the meeting. Students should be given the opportunity to express their opinions instead of being forced to accept all the decision made by adults. There should be a questionaire where students are given a chance to have an impact on the education system. With the thought that the curriculum is always changing in mind, educators should be give their students at least a voice in it. The esl system is also very frustrating, especially the elementary schools. Often students that don’t require esl anymore are stuck in the system. Personally I was stuck in esl in grade 6 where I was exceeding my english classes.
I can understand your frustration. Having said that, this forum is an opportunity for everyone to share their voice on how we can improve BC’s education system. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!
This means that students are aware and interested in their education. Students care about what they are learning, how they are being taught, and do not allow all decisions to be made for them.
It means doing things like the B.C. Student Voice and giving our own opinions on how we like to be taught and how we want to see our school changed. It means that the students have to take the iniative in their own learning and be supported by means of their educator -ie. the relationship between the student and their teacher is mutual, they benefit from communicating with eachother. It also means that the student values their education enough to voice-out against things they don’t like in their learning environment, and to make sure educators understand the importance of the students’ opinion.
Remember: We are the future, give us a chance to speak out.
If you are unfamiliar with BC Student Voice or are curious as to what they have been up to recently, you can learn more on their website.
It’s true that indeed for students to play an active part in their education. Teacher say that students should always work on their homework and study each night. This is indeed one way for students to play some sort of role in their education. But that’s not exactly enough. Students also need to try to do more volunteer time. This is because that community work is another way for students to learn and expand on their education. This is because students need to involve more of themself in their studies of communities. Communities are a form of society that students should learn abou this is because they will be working in their communities in the fuure and to know what the main make up of the community is very fundamental to understand how their lives shoudld work out. This is also a very important active role because students can also comunicate with the seniors in the community and learn from them their experience and this can also help witht their education because from these seniors they can learn new ways to learn and new ways to live their life. After all, experience is something that is very important and need to be passed down to the future generation. If experience was left to be just thrown away so easily then indeed, everything that the seniors have lived for will have been meaningful and passed down to others. But this is only looking at active in the way of learning from others and experience.
Another way for children to play an active role in their education is to pose more questions towards the teacher because this will allow the teacher to change how they teach and also what sort of materials they give the student and provide some active criticism to the class and how it should be ran. Teacher should be more prepared for class instead of just reading off the book. For example my chemistry teacher made mistakes on his own worksheets. These sort of mistakes are very serious because they can be misleading and hinder the students education. But if the students were to give some sort of critism they can know to double check their work and or notes and to be better prepared for class. If teachers did this, not only would lessons be more assuring but it will also be more constrcutive and classes will move faster than average. Students could then learn faster and more efficiently and this can only be done if students actively participate and provide suggestions to the teacher.
For students to play an active role in their education, it means for them to have a true passion for what they are learning about. Many times the learning environment/ways are dry and old fashion for our generation, therefore it doesn’t develop students interest or passions for the subject they are learning about. Some ways we can stimulate our learning, we can do activities that are more hands on, visual and tactile. Instead of just reading from a textbook and worksheets during core classes, we can collaborate with another class like fine arts class, to demonstrate our learning and understanding in a more interesting way. In that way, our learning will be more enriching. Teachers can brainstorm with their class to see what kind of learning will spark interest within them. And putting those ideas into action. Educational fieldtrips are lacking in higher grades, which should not be the case. In our opinion, learning is much more than just sitting within the four walls of the classroom. We should go out and explore what we are learning in the real world, to see its practicality. More promotion can be done so that more students can be actively involved in their learning and school events.
In order for students to play an active role in their education it is necessary for them to be provided with a variety of opportunities and choices in which they can find some interest in. Not just choices in academics but also the simplest of things such as school events, food in the cafeteria, and so on. By doing this, students will have a more active role through enthusiasm, motivation, and excitment for coming to school. The students should not feel as though it is a chore to attend their daily classes.
Students who play an active role in their education feel more involved in their environment. It is very important for students to play a role so they’re interested in what they are learning. It is important if students take the time to learn the material and pay attention in class. Question asking is very important. If students are unsure of anything,it’s important to find out instead of sttuggling through not knowing. Participating in class is extremely important. Especially in English classes. It’s important to voice your opinions. Sometimes people who are very shy don’t do this, our classrooms should encourage more people to participate.
Are there any ways you can suggest to give those shyer students a voice?
In our opinion, students can play an active role in their education by becoming more involved. School is not all about receiving the right grades, it is much more than that; students must be reminded of that more often. Education is about discovering yourself: skills, talents and passions. These are equally significant to obtaining high grades, since these are things that will truly impact an individual’s future. Students should receive more support from their peers, teachers, and family in doing so. This can be seeen through: Sport, clubs, leadership teams, speech meets, theatre company, volunteering experiences, work experiences, student confrences, etc. Oppertunities such as these are vital of young adult’s development and well being.
Hi Natasha & Neha,
You are right: peers, teachers and family DO have an important role to play in helping students achieve their best. What kind of support/changes would you like to see?
Meaning for students to play an active role in their education is getting involved in what they truely enjoy and believe in. If you take courses that does not effect your career what’s the point of taking Biology 12 when you are registering for Emily Carr. Trying your best and focusing on your interested courses is more important than just getting straight C’s or A’s on random courses.
Students need an active role in their education because education essentially leads us to independance. If we don’t begin to govern our own future we will never learn that we are responsible for creating it. We are always living the life we create; if it is not fufilled, we must create something better. The journey on the way to our future careers is just as important as reaching the destination itself.
Students need to understand that they are responsisble for their own future and what they do with it. Giving each student the chance in a Leadership role can help promote their confidence to stride and achieve great things. Being in a Leadership class, we have learned much about famous leaders and about our own leadership styles. We are also given the opportunity to lead our peers and to help our school and community and that has given us a lot of insight on what is to come.
An active role in school can be exactly compared to an active role in sports. If you aren’t truly working for your own success you will not have the drive necessary to succeed in our highly-competitive, modern society. Students of today need to see their dreams of the future to motivate them to strive for doing their best. Starting in elementary school, students should be given little “glimpses” of the adult world by initiating a much earlier take your kid to work/career day. Using new techniques, such as online games and active learning activities within the classroom and at home, we can inspire students to love learning. Once we reach an appreciation for the power of education, we set on a path that will guide us for life.
It means students speak up about what they need and what they have to have in order to have better education for us. It’s not our parents or teachers who is learning. It’s us who has to learn and if we want better education, I think it’s our responsibility to speak and earn what we need. Because we are not “grown-ups”, it doesn’t mean that we can’t influence others. By speaking up to the public or each of our school, we can have much better education and succeed in it.
It is always wonderful to see students taking an interest in their own education – not only for themselves – but for the students that will come after. You are in a position to help guide the future of education in BC. Thank you for sharing your voice =)
students must help the teachers by wanting to learn. the way more students can get involved with there learning is to help each other and learn indapendantly sometime. i think schools should have to support struggling students as well. everyone has the right to learn and be able to ask for support and a student group such as peer medeators help students get to the center of there learning with support from people that know what they are doing and how to support them.
When students need help, they need to go find the help instead of waiting for help to come to you. Students have to stop being worried about being embarrassed about doing bad or not knowing certain things and not be afraid to go get help. Students should actively participate in their school and community in sports, clubs, or volunteers, as these things can help students improve in their education nd preparation for their future. They can get preparation for future schooling, work, and how to work well in groups and with other people. Students should also be active within their own classes and give opinions and get involved in group discussions. When/if they see a problem they should point it out to the teacher so that it can be changed. Students must be optimistic and want to learn, not just going to school because they’re forced to. They need to be more aware of the things happening in the school. Students should be more open-minded and be open towards other people’s opinions, and be a more well-rounded student. Marks are just one part of their education, but they need other aspects of school in their life too, such as getting involved in clubs, community, and leadership opportunities.
By contributing to forums like this, students like you are going a long way to empower students. It would be great if we could hear from more of you! Please encourage your friends to contribute their thoughts too!
For students to play an active role in their education, they should be interested in the activities they take part in. Students should be curious about the cirriculum that they are taught, thus should be excited for school rather than dreading. They need to feel comfortable around the teacher and the environment, so they can approach them to be ‘active’ in their learning. As well as given the opportunity to share their own ideas and participate in areas in which they are interested in.
I think it means to be actively involved in classroom discussions and doing all the work assigned. However, it can be hard to cope with with such intense “book-based” courses.
I graduated from BC High School in 1954, and completed my formal education with a PhD in 1971.
Thinking back, what turned me on most was teachers (at each level) who clearly loved their subject, were able to inspire interest in their students in that subject, and were able to interact with their students in ways which led to constructive further explorations. (By the way, that last objective didn’t necessarily mean “touchy-feeling understanding or empathy” — if could mean confrontational approaches needed to push some–not all — students harder.) What I also remember, unfortunately, is that most teachers — at all levels — either didn’t understand their subjects, or, even more important, weren’t particularly interested in the subject (a fatal flaw if you want to spark students’ interest in the subject), or were unable to get onto students’ wavelengths (due either to teachers basic personality, or lack of training). From my university days, I also formed the unfortunate impression that, with some exceptions, students in Faculties of Education were not strong in subject matter.
Successful “student directed” education will place even larger demands on teachers than teaching directed at imparting the curriculum. It will require teachers to have deeper understanding of the material, more genuine interest in it, more ability to understand when students are falling short of their (the students’) potential, and more motivation and skills to help students to remedy the gap.
My brief periods of teaching (at university level), led me to appreciate the challenge posed by the vast variety of students in terms of interest and ability. If the objective is to bring everyone to a new level (rather than to weed out those who won’t “make it”), and to do this by inspiring students to make and take their “own” paths, we need to find teachers (leaders?) who want to do this — and provide them with appropriate training.
I hope the Ministry didn’t start this discussion in hopes of finding community support for substituting (cheap) computer time for (expensive) teacher time. Does the somewhat surreptitious consultation being followed (I only learned today of this consultation from a friend, too late to comment on the first questions) indicate a wish by the Government not to repeat its highly publicised Forum on Public Health, which showed that the public rejected the Government’s not-so-hidden agenda.
If the concern is real in this case, the government needs to understand that attacking this issue is likely to require more spending on selecting and training teachers who are capable of providing leadership to students — and probably spending more on per teacher salaries and maybe more teachers/student as well. (Another personal observation: those classes (in elementary school, high school, and various universities) which stand out in my mind as pushing me to do or think about things differently or work harder were all small.)
A final point: while we are all mesmerised by the gains which arise from productivity increases (Moore’s Law etc), this model does not necessarily apply to all human endeavours — least of all to situations in which we are seeking changes in the “outputs” and not just inputs per standard output.
my two bits.
Thanks for your comments. If you wish to comment on the previous set of questions, you can still do so under the wrap-up heading (http://engage.bcedplan.ca/2011/11/question-1-3-wrap-up/).
Frank – we’re also working with the universities to determine what changes need to be made to the teacher training programs to prepare new teachers for a personalized learning approach. We’re looking at ways to provide similar learning opportunities for practicing teachers, too, perhaps through pro-D or through mentoring by experienced colleagues. If you have any other suggestions we’d be happy to hear them.
And to address your concern, our motive for these conversations is simple and genuine; We want your ideas and opinions on the future of K-12 education in BC. Our current system is very good but to prepare our kids for the demands of the 21st century we need to make it even better. And we can’t do it without the public as an active partner. Think of the BC Education Plan as the starting point – how we achieve the goals within it starts now, with your help.
One of the issue is attracting good quality students into teacher training programs given that BC teachers are the worst paid in the whole of Canada by just about every standard that can be measured. Unless teaching is supported as an autonomous profession with a valued place in the province’s long term economic growth the applicants for teacher training are going to reflect the current trend in the profession’s devaluation. In addition, many of the grads from teacher training programs best chance of a job are as TOCs – how can we find them work within the system to support their choice to work in education meaningfully?
I am constantly amazed and quite delighted with the level of awareness, knowledge and maturity (although there is quite a difference of maturity levels with some kids) of my boys and their friends – some of the benefits of our wired world.
They also have some interesting political views as well. In the context of the concept that people who have an ownership interest will treat that interest with more care and intensity, structuring our education system with positive involvement of the student client will bring a new dynamic to the schools. Of course the problem is how to make that happen, there seems to be a bit of a stigma now to participate in the students’ council for example….so an initial dialogue to discuss how to bring their strengths to the process is the first challenge.
I appreciate Moderator Mike’s comments explaining the vision for student engagement and participation in their own learning to evolve as students mature/age in the system. At the core I believe this is the right approach to ensure that students have ownership over their learning.
As a parent, my fear is that in our current educational environment there is a lack of communication with parents about the substantive learning objectives. The newsletters and PAC meetings are full of information about fundraising and PAC sponsored events but there is NOTHING about what goes on in the classrooms. The elementary report cards are so general they don’t help either. I was told that the principle cannot request teachers to submit any short bullets of learning goals/topics for the month or semester to make available to parents as that would be contrary to the collective agreement. If this is true the system is broken. It is my understanding that Principle’s only ‘supervise/mentor’ teachers in 3 ways: sign off on report cards; participation at a monthly staff meeting; and, as time permits, auditing classes. Principles would also be aware of individual parent concerns if parents are able to conntect with them.
In this environment how will a parent guide/mentor their child about choices presented to them for individualized learning? I am not comfortable with being unaware of what happens during most of my childs day but this is how the system currently works.
Playing an active role means being given a variety of age-appropriate choices, the training to make informed, wise decisions, and the support to follow through on the choices. It means being given a variety of choices where all answers are right but the best choice is the choice that will both develop the personal strengths and interests of the student involved as well as stretch and strengthen the weak points.
I would like to address the idea of student centred choice which ideally leads to self-directed learning. Nell Noddings work on the Ethics of Care  http://www.infed.org/biblio/noddings_caring_in_education.htm addresses this issue by contrasting relational caring with virtue caring.In my experience of 25 years teaching [I currently work in the PDP at SFU] realtional care is the key to developing meaningful choice in student development. Relational care inquires into the student’s own understanding of thier needs accepting whatever expression this takes and working with it to transform it via dialogue into a positive response. Virtue caring by contrast works on the assumption that the teacher knows the needs of the student. Obviously the teacher’s grasp of their content area will guide the dialogue in the relational model to align skills and content with the student’s input. My success in working with this model in an inner city school in Vancouver was in part facilitated by sponsoring an extra curricular outdoor education program that had community, skill and wilderness expedition components. In addition, to allowing my students the benefits of experiential education outlined by Chris Fuller it also allowed me to have amore holistic picture of my students as well as addressing important life skills that are not included in the academic curriculum. However, due to liability issues these experiences are becoming harder to organise for schools based on the amount of paperwork I have needed to comlete over the years any attempt to move towards experiential education needs both a commitment to making it more accessible to all students by funding it properly and provision of adequate guidelines /metorship at both a school board and provincial level.
One of my concerns about the overall thrust of the BC Education Plan is the lack of information about how this change will be funded – it can not be framed as a cost cutting exercise. In addition the references to students using their own handheld devices to increase their active role while it has some merit needs to be balanced with BC’s record of having the highest level of child poverty in Canada [ie many students do not have access to their own "devices"] and to be balanced with students need to use their own bodies/senses which is why I have a bias towards experiential methodology. This bias is based on my own research shortly to be published in Fall 201′s edition of Media : Culture : Pedagogy [formerly Educational Insights]as an article entitled “Mind the Gap” which is an exploration of the tension between students’ enthusiasm for the use of digital resources within their virtual culture and pedagogy that will support the use of these tools for educational ends.
In this case I’m approaching ‘active’ from a literal sense. After reading previous comments I found some common themes, namely the importance of ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction’ in the development of the active student.
I feel that in order for students to play an active role in their own education they must be engaged in learning on an experiential level, in particular outdoor environmental education.
Teaching and learning which engages the senses, or calls upon an emotional reaction on the part of the student results in an opportunity for student-curriculum connection unmatched by any other method.
As an instructor of outdoor education, I see the incredible potential in environmental experiential learning as a potent method towards personal connection and individual engagement with an oftentimes abstract student experience with curriculum.
When students are given a chance to actively ‘experience’ their own learning, engage as co-creator, and not merely passively ingest what they’re told, a powerful opportunity for authentic meaning making exists.
According to the Ministry’s guidelines for environmental education, as outlined in: Environmental Learning and Experience: An Interdisciplinary Guide For Teachers (2007) the concept of learning from doing leads to relevance and deeper understanding through connection with the natural world. (http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/environment_ed/principl.html).
Moving forward with the Education Plan I would be excited to see a more prominent commitment to supporting outdoor experiential education at all levels of schooling.
As a parent I see how powerful the natural world can be as a site for learning and as a teacher itself, not to mention how important it is to immerse our kids in nature every chance we get, arguably more so today then ever (see Richard Louv’s article: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/240/).
I am also very encouraged by the recent announcement of BC’s first Nature Kindergarten housed within SD 62’s Sangster Elementary scheduled to begin fall 2012..
In order to provide students with a more ‘active’ role in their own education, there must be a commitment at all levels to engage students through outdoor experiential education. Expand the possibilities of learning by expanding the four walls of the classroom.
Here are a couple more outdoor schools currently operating in B.C. school districts in addition to the newest one in School District 62.
School District 42
School District 44
Fenstermacher (2000) indicates we tend to confound ideals with goals, confusing orienting devices with reasonable destinations. This presents great frustrations for all concerned as ideals are relatively unobtainable in the rigors of reality but serve as great compasses. Kieran Egan’s (2001) analysis of “why education is so difficult and contentious” also helps frame our educational dilemmas. His basis premise is that the three fundamental aims of education are each flawed and work at cross purposes to each other presenting a chaotic and complex incompatibility that has confounded educators and society. In fact, he calls them “fatally flawed” in that each aim cannot compensate for the shortcoming in the other and subsequently each undermines the other. The three aims of “socializing the young”, academics and developing each student’s potential are each desirable ends but the means to such ends often run counter to each other. Each aim evolved to resolve the inconsistencies of the other. Egan refers to education “as a composite …rather than a unitary idea (p. 935). When considering the purpose of education, this confusion is a very useful lens. It does cast light on the chaos and complexity of our educational enterprise.
“So, we socialize, but we undercut indoctrination by the academic program calling society’s values into question and by the commitment to individual development reducing society’s claims on any particular individual; we pursue an academic program, but we undercut intellectual development by egalitarian pressures from socialization and attention to other forms of individual development,but we undercut its fulfillment by the homogenizing pressures of socialization and by the standardizing brought about by a common academic curriculum (Egan, 2001, p. 935).
Egan, K. (2001, 6 103). Why education is so difficult and contentious. Teachers College Record , pp. 923-941.
Fenstermacher, G.C. (2000).‘What is the Difference between the North Star and Northfield? How Educational Goals and Ideals Become Confused’. Summer Institute for Superintendents on Probing National Issues in Education (pp. 1-10). Mackinac Island, Michigan: Author
It is not so much what it means (it means that students make choices about what, how, where, and when they learn) but what it requires.
It assumes that every student is going to make the choice we want them to make–to work towards what is best for him or her as a learner. Many students already make this choice. Many others don’t. Guiding the reluctant ones to this end will likely be a serious challenge.
It requires that this independent-learner mode of thinking be built up over time, so that the student does not arrive, say, at high school and all of a sudden be expected to be in the driver’s seat of his or her education. Hopefully, parents will work to engender such a mode so that entry into the schooling system will be fluid.
It requires a relinquishment of control from the teachers–and this will be difficult if teachers find themselves struggling to manage increasingly diverse learning situations within the “classroom” (what ever a classroom will look like). More or less, it will require a radical shift in the way many teachers approach their work. This shift will not come easily.
It means a shift in responsibility. The strenght of this approach is that it means that the burden of quality will be shifted, at least in part, from the teacher to the student. The teacher, ever less so to be seen as a master of content, becomes a facilitator. Less so will a student be able to blame his or her lack of interest or success on “the teacher”, as the student will be choosing subject matter.
You’re absolutely right, Brent. We can’t just flip a switch part way through a student’s K-12 education and expect him or her to take more responsibility for what and how they learn. This is something that needs to evolve over several years.
The plan is this: Early in the student’s education the curriculum will remain structured and focus on the foundational skills. As the student progresses and gains more understanding and life experience they will, with the assistance of teachers and parents, take on more responsibility for choosing their educational path.
students are active participants in their learning when they are engaged and interested in what they are learning. I think that there are some incredibly successful teachers who have great influence on how engaged the children are in their classes, and students almost uniformly rate these educators highly. It would be worthwhile to look at these educators and how they get such great participation from their students.
Playing an active role = choice in courses, being motivated to learn, being responsible for outcomes.
Students are somewhat sheltered from reality in school, and having so few trades in school is a real detriment. Many kids can’t get into the trade courses that they want, for example auto mechanics, as the opportunities are limited. In Switzerland, every student has to pick a work=study field and pursue 1 year of apprenticeship. When they graduate, they can either go onto university, with real life work skills, or continue to work in their field (for example, lab assistant). Our public education system mostly prepares students for college or university entrance, and kids who have little interest in higher education aren’t prepared for any other type of work.
Kids know that high school doesn’t prepare them for careers. And all you have to do is look at the stats of how poorly boys are doing in school to see that they are not that engaged in their learning = what they are learning is of no interest. For example, why are kids still studying the same literature that I did 40 years ago? Why are they learning 2 years of Shakespeare? Why do they study the holocaust? For goodness sake, make the curriculum relevant to the 21st century learners.
As others posted, questions are very important. Questions are the keys to connect concepts. This way, students will learn easy while they have fun. But, now all the questions provide easy and fun learning. Questions that are not pre-determined only can provide the easy and fun learning.
Problem is that students don’t know how to ask questions. Thus, have to be taught. To teach how to ask is thus the key of education. Problem is ‘how to teach this’. It is relatively simple. Teacher ask questions – the questions that are not pre-determined. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. Without knowing what type of questions lead to the answers, most of questions are pre-determined.
To get around this, there is another way to approach. That is describing. Describing phenomenon and connecting related phenomenon are the ways to lead students to ask questions.
‘When it is windy, describe wind is blowing and because of the wind leaves are falling. Because leaves are falling, there are people cleaning them. Leaves are falling more during the fall because trees are preparing for winter.’
Sentences like this have two different sides.
1. it is connoting two different concept.
2. it is leading students to ask questions.
For example, ‘why trees are loosing leaves during fall? ‘
This way, students will learn how to ask questions. When students ask more questions, the class will turn in to discussion. As discussion goes, teachers can guide students to the area they have to learn.
This means that teachers are not saturating students brain with knowledge but just guiding them to learn. More importantly students will learn by themselves while actively involved in discussion – turning passive learning to active learning.
For more details, please read the articles listed below.
The fundamental principle of education:
Building concepts by making connections:
Education in childhood:
Hi Tongpil. So, if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re suggesting that moving forward there should be more emphasis on developing critical thinking and problem solving?
Yes, to me, that’s the most important and the focus should be since we cannot teach all the details in each field. We need to teach the core of every filed. In other words, teaching unique in general.
Here is the link to an article related to this.
The core of Education – Unique in General:
Well said. Neil Postman wrote extensively on the importance of asking questions, writing in 1979 that “What students need to know are the rules of discourse which comprise the subject, and among the most central of such rules are those which govern what is and what is not a legitimate question.”
In The End of Education (1996) he goes on to say, “Of special importance are the ways in which the forms of questions have changed over time and how these forms vary from subject to subject. The idea is for students to learn that the terminology of a question determines the terminology of its answer; that a question cannot be answered unless there are procedures by which reliable answers can be obtained and that the value of a question is determined not only by the specificity and richness of the answers it produces but also by the quantity and quality of the new questions it raises.”
John Seely Brown & Douglas Thomas in A New Culture of Learning and Howard Gardner in Five Minds for the Future have made similar arguments, contending that going forward, people who have a strong ‘questing disposition’ will be sought after and valuable.
My definition of the term ‘active’ is different from the idea that ‘active’ refers to finding more active ways to get students to consume pre-given content in their learning activities. In my view, this approach is simply a way to disguise transmissive knowledge transfer from curriculum to student. The student is still a passive learner, in that they do not have a role or interest in the topics, subjects, issues, or interests they are studying. The content is pre-determined, the teacher is trying to come up with creative ways to get the students interested. My definition of an active learner is about the relationship between me as an educator, and the students who I am privileged to learn with. My relationship with my students is one of collaborative, experiential, discovery learning taking place in a social setting (whether face to face, online, or a hybrid combination). What is different is the responsibility that we agree to take in our learning activities, and the relevance we identify our learning will have on in a wider context – our learning activities are actually making a contribution to generation knowledge in the communities we are a part of. In this definition, an ‘active learner’ is one that is making a contribution, through their learning activities, for the greater good.
As Simon Truelove alluded to, it is the student’s responsibility to “buy in” to the instruction given by the school. The good teacher will strive to use best practices in order to motivate and inspire the students to the point where they will “buy in”. The more the student is involved in the learning process, the better they will learn. Ways in which teachers can involve students include encouraging and empowering students to be involved in peer and self evaluation, providing an element of choice in assignments, and promoting an atmosphere of open dialogue among students, teachers and parents.
It means ASKING THE STUDENTS. I was surprised when both of my sons had several comments on changes they would like to see based on their own very different experiences and learning styles. I think this forum needs to be specifically directed to students. I do not believe many students are aware of this forum.
Hi Joan. We’re encouraging everyone who’s interested and involved in the BC K-12 education system to take part in this conversation. And, of course, that includes students — this is for them, so it should absolutely include them. We’d love to hear from your sons, for example, if they’re willing to share their thoughts.
We’ve noticed more comments from students lately on the site, but we want more, more, more! We’re working hard to get the word out to students through as many channels as we can, but if you have any suggestions for how we can broaden our reach, we’d be more than happy to hear them.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. An active role is where the student is trying to be successful in the directions indicated by the school. A misuse of the term ‘active role’ is to suggest that the students ought to always decide what is good for them. Letting kids choose everything is bad parenting and bad teaching. That being said, offering choices is a good way to get the student engaged in learning. We need to get better at knowing what kinds of educational experiences will be beneficial to students and putting those challenges in front of them. Many students in a large class can be held back because of other students who are progressing at a slower rate. Students who are strongly motivated can go ahead by themselves, or can pursue individual projects. Many parents are also willing to play an active role and this should be encouraged as long as they don’t get in the way by helping too much, making excuses for missed assignments or blaming the teacher for the child’s mistakes; all of which happens far too often for optimal learning. (A good example of this working well is school science projects where parents discuss the topic at home with the students.)
For learning to be active requires helpful, meaningful and quick relevant feedback to the students and course material needs to somehow be made relevant to the student today. There needs to be a way to engage students. Those that want to learn, are already motivated to be engaged. That is a VERY small percentage of students. Most are plugging along, doing what they have to to get by and finish as smoothly and painlessly as possible. It doesn’t have any ‘meaning’! Most of what they have to learn is irrelevant to them.
Take Social Studies 11. Most teachers just teach it as basic information..MOST of the students are completely bored with the course or tire of the ‘propaganda’ they think they are receiving. There are very few teachers attempting to make the history come alive or be relevant truly relevant to today.
Field trips, drama, etc.
If there was more incentive to really pour their own ideas and creativity into the learning, with some sort of reward…then I believe more students would actively engage.
There needs to be greater course selection and options…perhaps more opportunity to practice real skills in the community. More opportunities to explore a variety of ideas, profession and trades.
School often ends up being just meeting the timetable and prescribed number of days. That should NOT be so. If I was told I HAD to stay home ‘X’ numbers of hours a year and within that year I had to
-clean windows once a month
-read a plumbing repair journal
- etc. etc.
Don’t you think home would then be a place I would NOT really want to pour my passion into? That is what we have done to kids.
meaningful and relevant that is what we need.
I hated when I went to get my undergrad degree to teach.
At first I was going to get a B Ed. Yuch!!! the majority of courses I needed to fulfill that degree were nothing to do with what I wanted and needed to learn in the classroom. I ended up switching to a BGS and then I could ‘play’ and truly dig into course that were relevant to me as a teacher in the classroom. It was amazing..in fact I was able to take 2 courses while teaching full time, it was so relevant and meaningful. I also partook in a teacher as researcher project through the ministry. WOW!!! How about a student as researcher.
I love being able to be passionate as a teacher and having students excited about learning…BUT there are too many ‘requirements’ nowadays for the to be possible.
The ‘system’ needs to look at it’s requirements and the motivation behind these requirements.
It means you can choose reading material relevant to your life which is not necessarily Shakespeare. It means you can choose subjects that are relevant to getting a job, investing money, learning what food to eat that is healthy and how to prepare it and not study the outdated subjects that are so often offered.
I don’t think schools and education are just about pragmatic topics that relate to obvious personal well-being. It is public education and therefore all stake holders carry the responsibility of ensuring that students become well rounded citizens with global and cultural awareness that ensures that we have a just and democratic society.
I also think that schools get too many things off-loaded to them. For example, while I can imagine that some families (or individuals) require help with learning about healthy eating, I think this is something that for the most part should be taught at home.
As a student (Currently Grade.10) in the current outdated education system, I’ll share my thoughts. Instead of proposing my own ideas, I’m going to respond to those already posted – and explain what my Socials 9 teacher attempted (And had some success with).
One suggestion below was as follows – “Have hallway monitors in all public schools that are students and voluntary, and they make sure no one gets bullied by anyone. And they make sure there is no violence, and they have a waki-taki, to talk to the school office (administration).” Personally, past Elementary School – I would think this to be a redundant issue[bullying], and I do not personally believe that we should be focusing on bullying at this precise moment, in reformation of highschools, Elementary may be different. In my Elementary School, what we had were peer-mediators who where grade 6/7 students who acted as supervisors on the playground, supervising the lower grade children. Despite the lack of training (and being one), I saw that these kids came to us peer mediators rather than the adult supervisors who where active. Very serious issues at times as that. I think this idea of peer-mediators WORKS GREAT, in Elementary – Highschool it would not [I’ll articulate in a second]. If we could expand this Peer-Mediator program to every elementary school past district 41 – I think we could see a lot of improvement, and in our elementary schools, a bigger connection between Jr’s and Sr’s.
However in Highschool, I would think this to be a very bad idea. When I was a peer-mediator , I quit by the beginning of term 3. Why? Because I got so much backlash from my own peers in my grade, calling it redundant, stupid, boring, unpaid, and they somehow twisted bleeding-heart to be an insult. (This was not a case of bullying, to make things clear. Just there comments in discussion, when we weren’t talking about girls, tag, the newest video game ect; — oh the simple life of Elementary.) However, if this program or even hall-monitor were to move up into Highschool – I would think that this pressure would be more then mere discussion. You’d be considered a rat, a snitch, a cop wannabe, an @-hole and so on and so forth (Not to justify it of course). To skip superfluous detailing, no kid in the right mind, even those socially awkward ones in high-school, would sign up for such a job.
Richard Ajabu – I completely loved that idea, front to back. As a student, I would find that so helpful! (Referring to — “By double-clicking on various parts of that progress chart the student can drill deeper into their progress to see which grade levels, semesters, courses, units, lessons, assignments, learning outcomes, competencies, etc, they have attempted already, and which remain outstanding in their plan for that school year (or day/week/month/diploma/certificate/etc). ”To be able to load up at almost random intervals of the day, a screen with my current grades, courses, and my (few *snrk*) outstanding assignments, would be heaven – and would most defiantly in every shape and form help me with my current grades. “It is possible for the student to be in one location and the evaluating teacher to be in another. And more than one teacher could assess/evaluate the same assignments. In fact the system could allow self evaluations, peer evaluations, teacher evaluations, guest evaluations (parents, family members, celebrities, experts, etc) as well.” I’m going to not address anything of this (because it is awesome), and focus on two words from it “peer evaluations.” I think, however we (hopefully) reform or change the current education system – that peer evaluations should be part of it. Do you know the amount of time my friends spend, to think of witty Facebook status, and tweets for their peers to read? Do you know the amount of time, my friends sometimes spend on debates via facebook? They spend, I would think more time then they do on homework some nights, easily. I read an essay, which I cannot seem to find anymore which perfectly proved that when people know that their peers are going to read something, they do better – then when their teacher is going to. They spend more time on it, more thought, more effort. Which makes sense – you want to impress your friends. Do you want to impress your teachers? No, you just want to pass. Heck, a good portion of my friends have blogs these days. Blogs for what? To express themselves – and a funny thing is, these blog posts whether rants or not – have often proper grammar, and driven though process behind it. “I can envision so many benefits of such a system, including the fact that students would see their work as being truly valued and they would also be more involved in valuing the work of their peers (and teachers).” – Richard. Even though this last quoted message was destined for a previous post, it applies to this one also. Peer reviews = students seeing their work as being truly valued.
“Students play an active role in their own education when learning grows directly from their own questions. Young people are natural questioners, and this starts very early. Think of the toddler incessantly asking “Why?” Young people are some of the best natural researchers and philosophers—but they need our help.” – Tiffany Poirier. To be able to explore my own questions in class, rather then generic ones – set up by a indoctrinated curriculum, would also again, be heaven. Pure heaven. However, we must start from kindergarten, I believe – so that we can avoid results, which are represented in the next paragraph.
My Socials Studies Teacher in GR.9 tried something like this, (he was a believer in reformation of the education system, very outspoken about it). The unit was “The Industrial Revolution”. Midway into the unit, in history – he gave us a free run of the mill. We got to make up our own thesis statement, research it – and create a presentation for it, if i remember correctly. (It had to be somewhat related to the unit however…) You should have seen the looks in the classroom, and the talks when we left the class. Everyone was dumbfounded. We had not been use to being given an allotted amount of time of in-class time, a deadline, and being told to create a presentation of our liking, on a thesis of our liking. Complete freedom, and it was I’d say a move much to quickly. Unlike the other kids, I loved this. They, did not. They had been so use to being given a thesis topic, being mouth-fed the steps towards completing an essay (even though we’ve done them since grade 5), and being basically handed the websites, books and encyclopedias to study from – that they, and myself were not prepared. (I remember failing miserably at the end…by my standards) Here’s the funny part. Instead of taking grasp of this immense freedom, they stuck themselves back to the teacher – being mouth-fed a thesis and where to research. This is how… Our last area of study, before being given this huge freedom – was child labor in the industrial revolution. Take a guess, what nearly half of all the essay’s/presentations were about? Child labor… I cannot speak for my teacher, but if I were him – I am sure, that I would have groaned, ran into a wall, and proceed to – like a drone, mark the projects… painfully so.
Your comments are great. Are there other students out there who wish to share their experiences and thoughts and ideas with us? We would love to hear them!
Students playing an active role in their education means a couple of things. 1. It is essential that students are actively engaged in the actual learning process. The most current research suggests that most people learn more completely and retain more when their learning is hands on and when they are learning collaboratively(and are provided formative assessment). If, as a student, I was given a choice on whether to work alone or in a group, I would almost always choose alone, yet, studies show that this is not as effective as working with others and sharing opinions, ideas, etc. Therefore, I do not think it is in our students best interest to eliminate the classroom under the guise of more/individual choice. I do believe that it makes more sense to group students according to ability. 2. As a parent, and an educator I would resist strongly the idea of having students and parents “directing” the child’s own education unless we are talking about senior high school levels. My daughter is 16 years old and I asked her how she felt about deciding from an early age (I suggested 12), what courses she would take based on her interests and she balked stating “I have changed my career direction probably every year of my life since I was little – if I had not been exposed to such a broad based education I would never be able to consider all the options that are currently available to me.” As well, she does have subjects in which she has struggled with and is now successful in. I know that she would have dropped those courses if they were not mandatory and now, with her current career direction she finds that she needs those courses. There are also areas she excels in – and she engages with these because she loves them…
I think students playing an active role in education is fantastic…support teachers and schools and ultimately students, to set up rich learning environments for students, group them by ability, give extra support to those who need it and ensure a rich, broad based education that focuses on critical thinking skills rather than primarily rote memorization. How do you measure the happiness, engagement, and creative thinking skills of an individual? I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that that kind of rich environment is contrary to an environment where everyone is focused on skills based assessments and schools/teachers assessed according to how well their students do on these tests. Not to mention how dull that kind of classroom becomes. I also believe that some flexibility is good…but we also need to be sure that where there is choice, it is the student’s and not just the parents decision. As a parent, yes I understand that sometimes I do know better…but, and this is a big but, at what point do I/we draw the line between what I think is in her best interest and what she believes is in her best interest and what is in her best interest? Often times the mediator (schools and her teachers – the unbiased support) come in very useful for this purpose.
have hallway monitors in all public schools that are students and volunteers, and they make sure no one gets bullied by anyone. and they make sure there is no volience. and they have a walki talki to talk to the school office.
[In response to Q3, Q4, Q5 & Q6]
A student goes to a website hosted by the school district or the Ministry of Education, logs in and is greeted on their homepage by a piechart or other functionally similar representation of their progress toward completing their educational plan for that school year.
By double-clicking on various parts of that progress chart the student can drill deeper into their progress to see which grade levels, semesters, courses, units, lessons, assignments, learning outcomes, competencies, etc, they have attempted already, and which remain outstanding in their plan for that school year (or day/week/month/diploma/certificate/etc). The student can see what competency level they achieved on completed learning tasks, and they can see a list of all outstanding learning tasks in their plan. So students/parents/teachers can easily see what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished.
When this new system was first adopted, learning tasks were organized by grade level, subject, course, unit, lesson, and assignment because that was the old way that schools used to operate and that was the metaphor most familiar to students, parents, teachers, etc. But it didn’t take long for everyone to realize that each of those organizational units (grade level, course, assignment, etc) was ultimately nothing more than a collection of presentations, activities, assignments, etc that could be drilled into and decomposed in terms of learning outcomes, compentencies and competency levels. A grade level is just a collection of courses that have been successfully completed at a specified competency level. A course is just a collection of units, lessons, assignments, etc that have been successfully completed to a specified competency level. This granularity continues down the hierarchy until you get to learning outcomes, competencies and associated competency levels. So every organizational unit can be decomposed in terms of learning outcomes, competencies and associated competency levels. Once students, parents and teachers realized that, they could easily build and propose their own customized organizational units (ie their own assignments, units, projects, courses, etc) things got a lot more exciting!
Teachers could easily select a set of learning outcomes and competencies from conveniently provided lists and associate them as individual and unique assignment names, project names, unit names, course names, etc, as they preferred. Students and parents could do the same! Since every organizational unit could be decomposed into a set of learning outcomes, competencies and competency levels, the meaning of grade level, course, etc became less important and yet the same learning outcomes and compentencies continue to be addressed.
The student/parent/teacher might choose to accept the automatically determined default collection of courses, units and assignments for their current grade level or they could start customizing. Students/parents/teachers could select any course/unit/project/assignment and drill down to see which learning outcomes and competancies were addressed. They could search/browse for alternative courses/units/projects/assignments that could individually, or in combination, address the same set of learning outcomes and competencies. Or they could create their own course/unit/project/assignment themselves, from any combination of learning outcomes and competencies along with any courses/units/projects/assignments that already exist in the system. Anyone can mash it up! All that matters is that the specified set of learning outcomes and competency levels required to complete the assignment/course/grade level/diploma/etc are successfully demonstrated.
A student could select an assignment from their to-do list and see a list of associated learning objects (or link to them)that might include streaming video presentations, interactive multimedia presentations, reading assignments, opportunties to attend live lessons and activities, etc. The student could also view the intended learning outcomes, competencies and competency levels associated with the assignment, as well as view specifications for any deliverables/products that must be submitted for assessment and evaluation. When the student thinks they have successfully completed that assignment, they might upload the deliverables required and submit that work for evaluation.
A teacher might log in and review the progress of the student to discover a new assignment has been submitted. They download/open the assignment and assess/evaluate it using the list of competencies and competency levels that are associated with the assignment. When finished, the assessment/evaluation is immediately available to the student, their progress indicator (pie chart or whatever) is updated, etc.
It is possible for the student to be in one location and the evaluating teacher to be in another. And more than one teacher could assess/evaluate the same assignments. In fact the system could allow self evaluations, peer evaluations, teacher evaluations, guest evaluations (parents, family members, celebrities, experts, etc) as well. In addition to receiving evaluations and assessments from teachers, imagine students receiving constructive criticism and encouragement for their submitted work from their their parents, friends, local and/or celebrity artists, local and/or celebrity entrepreneurs, local and/or celebrity sports personalities, etc! This system would make it much easier for family and community to get involved.
With such a system both teachers and students benefit from the flexibility and convenience provided by the technology.
The great thing is that software similar to this is already being used in Virginia (and has been for several years) and it is free, open source software! That means we wouldn’t have to pay for the software and we could modify it however we want in order to better suit our needs.
You can check it out here: http://cando.cteresource.org/index.html
This is just a snapshot but I hope I was clear enough so that you get the idea.
QUESTION! QUESTION! QUESTION! We all need and crave good questions…we need to know how to express them, and we need a supportive ear to listen and respond–with not just answers but also more questions! The act of questioning is exciting, challenging, full of possibilities, liberating…I believe it is THE DOORWAY TO LEARNING!
Students play an active role in their own education when learning grows directly from their own questions. Young people are natural questioners, and this starts very early. Think of the toddler incessantly asking “Why?” Young people are some of the best natural researchers and philosophers—but they need our help. Their instinct to question is quelled as parents and teachers can’t or don’t care to nurture it—but teachers and parents need help in questioning skills too.
We ALL need to think about practical strategies and creative ideas to grow young people’s own questions into meaningful, learning experiences. All people benefit from and deserve to learn to identify and create many varieties of deep questions and then how to be productive in pursuing the answers.
I’m a Surrey teacher, and I feel so passionate about this topic–it would be an honour for me to share with you some of the lessons I’ve developed to do with questioning. I invite you to visit my blog where I’ve posted a lesson plan for a fun questioning activity to use at any level:
HERE IS A “QUESTIONING” LESSON PLAN: http://personalizinglearning.com/2011/11/10/personalized-learning-activity-73-the-questions-in-the-shadows/
PRACTICAL: THE WHY AND HOW OF QUESTIONING: Here is a link to an article about why and how to help young people question deeply. It includes some practical tips: http://thetyee.ca/Life/2009/09/08/YoungPhilosophers/
MY OWN QUESTIONING JOURNEY: This is a link to an article sharing my own journey as a question-hungry child trying to take an active role in my education who turned into a question-loving teacher: http://web.uvic.ca/torch/torch2009f/feature_5.htm
Thank you so much for considering this! I would love to hear your thoughts and your own questions on my blog where I question the “Personalized Learning” discussions happening today. The blog is at http://www.personalizinglearning.com
Assessment for Learning is the best way for students to have an active role in their education.
Consider the benefits of more highly valuing the products of student learning.
In the “real world”, there are many venues for adults to participate in furthering our collective knowledge. Adults can read the original work of others in a variety of journals and reply with constructive criticism, create and publish summaries on the state of the art, etc. Adults have many venues to publish their own original contributions for the benefit of all and we all benefit from the discussion, debate, constructive criticism, and further original research that ensues.
Those venues (journals, conferences, online databases, etc) are critical to our collective learning process. It is how we record and communicate the development of our knowledge. We value this very highly in the “real world”, and I can’t help but think that something is seriously wrong when, every year, most student work is simply thrown away.
There is a contradiction between how much we value products of learning in the adult world and how much less we apparantly value products of learning in our schools. I wonder what kind of message we are sending to our students when, on the one hand, we teach them to use our wonderful libraries and databases full of the work of others and then stand by while the products of their learning go into the garbage bin not long after the assignment has been marked. //Aside: there is also a discrepency between how much we value democratic processes (and other aspects) of the adult world versus in our schools. How many schools have class representatives, student councils, student judicial councils, etc? How many schools allow student peers to play any part in discipline processes at schools? But I will try to stay focussed on how we value products of student learning.//
Consider how closely, or not, we model the “real world” within our schools. Consider how much better students would understand our society by the time they graduate, how much better prepared students would be to participate and contribute constructively in our society by the time they graduate if they spent their years of education in schools that more closely modelled society itself? “As above, so below” make sense if our goal is to prepare students to become constructive members of our larger society.
Imagine a school system where products of student learning were recorded and saved in a database that students, parents, teachers, researchers, the public etc could access them whenever necessary. Differing views of those recorded products would be possible and private information would be automatically redacted from public views as per privacy legislation. Student portfolios would be just one type of view so that individual students could showcase and present their own work in various ways to their teachers, parents, potential employers, etc. Students and teachers could also search the database for student work at a particular “grade level”, associated with a particular learning outcome, topic, genre, subject area, etc and could learn from the work of others (perhaps a student might correct errors in an essay that interests them or write a sequel or an alternative ending, compare and contrast some paintings they find, create some music for a poem they find, use examples they find to help them learn or document a new process, etc). Students could self evaluate their own work online and that evaluation would be associated with the work. Teachers could assess and evaluate student work online and those assessments and evaluations would be associated with the work. Teachers and researchers could use student work and the associated assessments and evalutions to maintain a “living” set of performance standards (wouldn’t it be a time saver to be able to search and/or browse all student work and associated rubrics, assessments and evaluations and use selected items with your class?). A specialist teacher might spend more time assessing and evaluating products associated with their specialty from students across the province, and student work could easily be assessed/evaluated by any teacher(s) regardless of where they are located. Students would be able to search and/or browse all student work and associated rubrics, assessments and evaluations in order to find projects, ideas and raw materials for learning that suit their needs and interests.
I can envision so many benefits of such a system, including the fact that students would see their work as being truly valued and they would also be more involved in valuing the work of their peers (and teachers). It would be great to see this idea explored, developed, tested and implemented as appropriate.
The following link is a good article (Denning,Forbes, Sept. 2011)on explaining some things that may need to be done in the educational framework so students can take an active role in their education. Essentially, it means getting rid of the factory model of education that benefits bureaucracies over students, limiting the ability to imagine and create. We also need to re-look at how we fall into our measures becoming our goals and lose sight of what education should be. There is much more to it, but hopefully it is inspiring learners to be more active in their education and not just merely covering some curriculum that may not fully apply a year from now.
Great article! Flexibility and personalization cannot exist in an inflexible and impersonal system. The framework education operates within must change prior to other changes. An example of how frustrating it is when doesn’t happen is the new emphasis on technology.
The ministry and school districts want teachers to incorporate more technology in the classroom and most of us would love to. However, the system often doesn’t provide a reliable Internet connection, functioning hardware or up to date software. So, while there is numerous research that shows the number one factor in teachers using technology in the classroom is accessibility and ease of use (there are so many studies on this, if you’re interested just google factors-teachers-technology) many classrooms do not even have LCD projectors (crucial!) let alone document cameras, regular access to computers for students, access to useful software and, to really dream, white boards and iPads. If they do, it is usually due to a dedicated PAC or teacher fundraising and grant writing. Basically, parents and teachers go begging on our time to get technology into the classrooms.
Now I get there no money but please adjust expectations and demands of teachers to what the resources they have at their disposal allow them to do. Save the pro-d on technology until the technology is actually in schools.
So,in other words, change the system and then put the great ideas in it. Otherwise, It’s like being between a rock and a hard place with pressure coming from below and above at the same time.
BC should get a Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which “provides advice about intellectual disabilities to the Premier and the mp of Health and Human Services. This can include education, homeownership and workplace integration issues.
This may seem a bit semantic, but I think there is a difference between students actively participating in their learning and actively participating in their education. It seems almost by definition that students cannot learn except by actively participating (mentally) so one might ask what form that takes, how to maximize it and what are its hallmarks. As for how they actively participate in their education, does this mean shaping the curriculum (within what is legally mandated of course)? A little elaboration on the question might help focus the discussion.
We are looking for input on how we can engage students more in defining an educational experience that is relevant to individual learners needs. Do you have suggestions on how you would see something like this happening in the classroom?
If I understand you correctly, then, your focus is on the second aspect of “taking an active role”; that is, giving the student some choice in content so that s/he can pursue personal interests rather than a standard set of content for all. Needless to say, this would be bound to a considerable degree by the required curriculum, but there is still lots of room for individual students to focus on certain topics or themes and pursue them more deeply than others. Am I correct in my understanding?
If so, then I would want to consider two questions. First, is the Ministry proposing to change the way curriculum is defined in order to enable more latitude or will we continue to work with a curriculum that is essentially similar (and which does provide quite a bit of freedom as long as teachers don’t mistake the individual bullet points within an IRP as being legally mandated). Second, how can we make it practically possible for teachers to manage a more diverse set of individual pathways within the curriculum.
The first question is outside of the control of those in this discussion
The second question is an interesting one to which people could contribute from their experience. Of course, it is common practice to assign a research paper or something like that and let students pick the particular topic within some broadly defined boundaries, but I presume the Ministry’s intention is to develop much broader choice than that and over longer time frames – perhaps entire units or even individual courses of study for older students. I am not sure how it would be different in primary, however.
We are looking at this process as a collaborative one and an ongoing one. By gathering the information in a public forum and hearing the suggestions and ideas of all of those in the field, including teachers, parents students and community members, the plan will take shape and the questions will better be answered once the information has been carefully looked at. We are looking at finding the best ways to create and carry out the BC Education Plan, with input from as many of the citizens of the Province as we can reach. We are listening!
Good point Bruce. I’d just like to make one comment on the PLOs. The Learning Outcomes are proscribed and students are expected to learn them. The Achievement Indicators that I believe you mean when you are referring to the bullets are not proscribed, but the reality is that Provincial Examinations cover the achievement indicators. In Science 10, a teacher who teaches a PLO superficially or using different indicators from the listed achievement indicators will have students failing the Provincial exam.
As an example, before the Provincial Exam, I used to have a great unit on Radiation. The students were highly engaged and at the end they understood about the different types and how they affected living organisms.I did not spend much time on decay series and a lot of the precise chemistry, but I certainly ensured my students met the broad PLO. However, I had to ditch the unit in order to spend the time helping them understand the finer details so that they could pass the exam. The amount of time needed for this took all of my project time.
Thankfully, I no longer have to teach Science 10. My former students were engaged, and excited to learn. They have a better overall understanding of radiation that many of today’s students.
This is what I envision as personalized learning. I’d really like to get back to it. The number one implementation has to be a reduction in curricular topics.
Student will take an active role in their learning by asking questions and not be “given” the answer. Student will remain active when they are shown the many ways to find the answers.
It means students interacting with teachers and other students and creating courses they want to see, give feedback to each other, Helping out the teachers.
I love your emphasis on “interacting,” Donald. Well said.
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