Monday, 27 June 2011

The Ownership of Learning

As I approach the end of my first year of teaching, I am tempted to reflect on many of the units, lessons, and discussions my class did not have time to explore. I instead have allowed myself to celebrate the topics and activities my class became engaged into. But, at this time, I find myself asking what my students truly got out of their school year. Were they really able to take ownership of their learning?

It is difficult for students to own they're learning if they do not receive prompt feedback. When students complete an activity or write a test, they invest a great deal of their knowledge and ability into that task. If that piece of work sits in a hand-in box for a week, chances are the student will forget about that assignment. If the student is given an instant response they have the feeling that they did that work for themselves, or for others, not just for their teacher. This response does not have to be a grade, but any acknowledgement of student achievement.

This is where technology comes in. Yes, a quick mark, a brief comment, or hanging up work in the classroom, are great ways to celebrate student success. But, the 21st century learner seems to find relevance today in cyber space. Sharing work in class and on the walls of the school builds confidence and creates a sense of community, and should continue. However, publishing student ideas, creation, and reflection online creates an instant response they see as totally relevant.

When students see their work online they take pride in what they have created. They take ownership of their work and responsibility for the quality. After seeing or hearing something they have made online, they will strive to create something better. That is as good of self-assessment as there is. If teachers give students the power to own what they are doing, each learner will display there true capabilities.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Relevance in the Classroom

As my first year of teaching comes to a close, I find this to be an excellent time to reflect on what I have learned and been able to put into practice. In following posts I will discuss what I believe to be staples in education and what I attempt to maximize in my classroom: relevance, interactivity, and ownership.

When I was a student in Middle Years and Senior Years, I was constantly enthralled with assignments that were relevant to my life and my interests. With relevant material and activities, I felt like I could really show my teachers what I was capable of accomplishing. After graduating from High School and receiving a undergraduate degree, I began to pursue a career as an educator. During my time in the Faculty of Education at Brandon University, I made an effort to create projects and future lesson plans that would appeal to the interests and lifestyles of those I may be teaching.

I always knew using technology in my classroom would be one of the ways I would make learning relevant to my students. Technology is something students are constantly engaged in, whether it be videos, music, computer games, cell phones, or social media. It is my belief that bringing these things into the classroom will increases student engagement and make their educational experiences relevant.

Even though many students are driven and interested in the advances and possibilities of technology, this is not the only tool a teacher can use to increase relevance in student learning. As I discovered early in my pursuit to become a teacher, relevance in learning lies in the choices we give our students. Encouraging students to use their learning styles and interests to choose how they carry-out assignments and demonstrate their knowledge and ability will allow them to get the most out of each experience.

What are other effective ways have you found to increase relevance in the classroom, using technology or otherwise?