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| Volume 66 | Number 3
Table of Contents
Thomas R. Guskey and Eric M. Anderman
Both in school and the neighborhood, children today have few opportunities to learn about sharing, establishing rules, fairness, and responsibility. Yet despite this lack of experience or guidance in responsible action, adults often become incensed when students show little personal responsibility for their actions and the possible consequences. Educators can implement a variety of instructional and management practices at the school and classroom levels that encourage students to develop a sense of responsibility. Rather than punishing students for irresponsible actions, these practices involve teaching students to make responsible decisions and follow through with responsible actions. Practices include letting students decide how to use their time; choose classroom rules, work locations, and tasks; and develop rubrics. Teachers should also implement student-led conferences and standards-based grading, which assigns separate grades for student behavior.
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Being literate in the 21st century means being able to function in and leverage the potential of collaborative, transparent online groups and networks. Before educators can help their students make the most of this powerful potential, they need to understand that the willingness to share one's work—and to some extent one's personal life—fosters these connections. Although many students are used to sharing content online, they need to learn how to share within the context of network building. In addition, they need to understand that publishing has a nobler goal than just readership—and that's engagement. Educators must help students learn how to identify their passions; build connections to others who share those passions; and communicate, collaborate, and work collectively with online networks.
Dana L. Mitra
Student voice refers to opportunities for students to share in school decisions that shape their lives. Student voice initiatives can range from students giving teachers their opinions about school issues to youth assuming leadership roles in reform efforts. Mitra describes how a high school in California that serves many low-income students and English language learners (and with a high dropout and teacher attrition rate) involved students extensively in its school reform efforts. The school convened focus groups involving students from diverse groups to learn what problems students perceived at the school and what types of support students needed. Students and teachers together analyzed data from the focus groups, identified four areas for reform, and presented these findings to the faculty. Students also participated in professional development sessions with teachers to improve instruction and helped "translate" learning resources and assessments into student-friendly language.
Carol Ann Tomlinson
Differentiated Instruction enables teachers to go beyond the question, How can I make sure a student masters a body of information? asking instead, How can I help create a real learner? Differentiation creates ideal conditions to promote four elements that help students take charge of their own learning: trust, fit, voice, and awareness. This article describes how effective teachers promote each of these elements in differentiated classrooms.
Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
Students are frequently assigned responsibility for their own learning activities; for example, teachers assign students to read a chapter in their textbook and answer the questions at the end. But students are rarely learning much in these instances. One reason so little learning happens when teachers assign individual learning tasks, Fisher and Frey believe, is that teachers often ask students to assume responsibility for their own learning with concepts and skills that are too recently introduced, so that students feel unclear on the purpose of the learning activity, unsure of what to do, and unmotivated. Instead, teachers must gradually transfer responsibility for learning from teacher to student, providing supports along the way. The authors describe four key ways teachers should support students as they move toward being able to learn independently: (1) establishing clear learning objectives, (2) modelling expert thinking, (3) promoting peer collaboration, and (4) providing guided instruction.
One of the most persistent barriers to student achievement resides in the collective mindset of the students we teach. Too many students have become compliant workers instead of engaged learners. This is due, in part, to nine misunderstandings about what it means to learn. These include such misconceptions as "What the teacher wants me to say is more important than what I want to say," "Once I get too far behind, I can never catch up," and "Speed is synonymous with intelligence." Students also don't realize that struggle, discomfort, and failure are a necessary part of learning. Teachers need to reflect on such issues with fellow teachers and students to create a compliance-free curriculum.
Problem-solving conferences give students a role in deciding how to solve their behavior problems. In this article, Caltha Crowe describes how she used a problem-solving conference to help a 3rd grade student who had tantrums whenever he was asked to write. She began by establishing the purpose of the conference. Then, she and Andrew talked about the problem area, and she invited him to help her solve it. Together, they explored possible causes, set a goal, and chose a solution, which, in Andrew's case, involved coming to school early and writing before class began. According to Crowe, conferences like this teach students to be self-reflective and to take responsibility for their behavior. These habits will help them be more successful people now and in their adult lives.
Susan Brookhart, Connie Moss and Beverly Long
A teacher's purpose in using formative assessment is to give students the means and motivation to take control of their own learning. Formative assessment practices provide students and teachers specific, regular feedback on how well students are mastering concepts and skills, feedback that both teachers and students can use to shape ongoing learning. Paradoxically, when teachers give students more control over their own learning through such assessment practices, more powerful learning happens.The authors describe a partnership between Armstrong School District in Western Pennsylvania and Duquesne University's Center for Advancing the Study of Teaching and Learning. Teachers in the district met in professional groups throughout several years to improve their formative assessment practices. These teachers, following stages that the authors detail, became more aware of what formative assessment entails and how to integrate this style of assessment into their classrooms in ways suited for their students. They observed that involving students in formative assessment led to increased student motivation and observable signs of students taking ownership of their own learning: setting their own goals, monitoring progress towards goals, and understanding which strategies and actions could most help their progress. The initiative also led to higher scores on standardized tests for students receiving Title 1 funds.
A teacher's purpose in using formative assessment is to give students the means and motivation to take control of their own learning. Formative assessment practices provide students and teachers specific, regular feedback on how well students are mastering concepts and skills, feedback that both teachers and students can use to shape ongoing learning. Paradoxically, when teachers give students more control over their own learning through such assessment practices, more powerful learning happens.
The authors describe a partnership between Armstrong School District in Western Pennsylvania and Duquesne University's Center for Advancing the Study of Teaching and Learning. Teachers in the district met in professional groups throughout several years to improve their formative assessment practices. These teachers, following stages that the authors detail, became more aware of what formative assessment entails and how to integrate this style of assessment into their classrooms in ways suited for their students. They observed that involving students in formative assessment led to increased student motivation and observable signs of students taking ownership of their own learning: setting their own goals, monitoring progress towards goals, and understanding which strategies and actions could most help their progress. The initiative also led to higher scores on standardized tests for students receiving Title 1 funds.
Learning in depth is a visionary curricular program in which schools would randomly assign 1st graders one topic to study through grade 12, along with the regular curriculum. Students would meet regularly with their teachers, who would guide them as they build personal portfolios about their topics. All students, by the end of their schooling, would be experts in their topics. Learning in depth would transform students' understanding of the nature of knowledge, teach them the difference between opinion and fact, transfer to students' learning in other areas of the curriculum, encourage learning for its own sake, and stimulate the imagination.
Sylvia Martinez and Dennis Harper
Today's students are increasingly savvy about the role technology plays in modern life. Yet schools are not keeping up. Students can be valuable resources in the areas of training and support. Five models have emerged that balance the benefits of service learning and leadership with the needs of schools struggling to integrate technology: students as committee members, students as trainers, students as technical support agents, students as resource developers and communicators, and students as peer mentors and leaders.
Michael J. Vokoun and Terry Patrick Bigelow
Bigelow and Vokoun, longtime middle school teachers, describe several scenarios in which they offered middle school students choice within classroom structures and routines, ways to meet required standards, and assignments. From asking students to create classroom rules to giving them free rein in reading choices, their experiences reveal that handing learners more control over their own learning is a complex undertaking. School leaders must consider whether students will still master required content. Although many students rise to the challenge of freedom in how to complete their assignments, others take this as an opportunity to do the bare minimum. Teachers must show perseverance, clarity in expectations, and creative guidance to make choice work.
Teachers in Expeditionary Learning schools have discovered that finding an authentic audience for a genuine product is the key to getting students to take responsibility for their own work. The author, a school designer for Expeditionary Learning Schools Outward Bound, describes three examples of projects in which students worked on curriculum standards through projects that served authentic community needs. For example, 2nd-grade students created an activity book for a seafood restaurant, developing their writing skills and vocabulary as they learned about ocean habitats, life cycles, and systems. The examples demonstrate what students can accomplish when they have meaningful projects and the right support.
W. James Popham
Douglas B. Reeves
Ronald J. Newell and Walter Enloe
The EdVisions model of project-based learning, first developed at the Minnesota New Country School, has now been adopted by 40 schools. The authors describe how this model builds instruction around student-designed projects to increase student engagement, while also providing a structure that ensures student mastery of curriculum standards. The article cites research showing that compared with students in traditional schools, students in EdVisions schools score higher on college entrance examinations, have higher levels of engagement and dispositional hope (the ability to establish and accomplish goals), and do well in college.
Adam Fletcher believes that schools should move students beyond engagement, which is merely an emotional state, and toward active involvement. To foster such involvement, schools need to give students opportunities to participate in activities that are meaningful and relevant. In this article, Fletcher offers several examples of roles for students. He tells stories of student involvement in school planning, teaching, and professional development. Students advocating for educational improvement, researching classroom climate, and leading new approaches to learning and teaching stand along side one another in the architecture of involvement that Fletcher endorses, demonstrating what school change looks like when the hearts, heads, and hands of students are infused throughout the process.
Leadbeater describe innovative practices he has seen at schools throughout the United Kingdom, all geared toward strengthening students' relationships with teachers in a way that strengthens their capacity to learn. Four key aspects of relationship building are essential: encouraging participation, providing recognition, helping students feel cared for, and fostering motivation. Leadbeater gives examples of each, from a shadow student leadership team to an older-to-younger peer tutoring program. Although relationships cannot be mandated by policy, Leadbeater urges schools to pursue approaches like these. School reforms for the coming century, he asserts, should not focus on adopting digital technologies or changing the logistics of how students access information: They should focus on providing students with relationships that enhance their learning.
Copyright © 2012 by ASCD
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