Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Five Credit Class Can Be Different for Each Student

Most high school courses are five credits each, and that means all students work through the same curriculum in order to earn them. Even within the structure of a course, online or face to face, a five credit class can be different for each student.

How can we make that happen in a 21st Century (Is there another term we should start using?) school setting?
How can we ensure that there is enough room for our students, individually, within the curriculum?
How can we allow for the fact that some students will need and want longer in certain areas of study while others will be completely uninterested in others?
How can we determine all of this before the school year starts, and be prepared, flexibly, for anything?

Here are six ideas:

1. Take on the role of a teacher guide. Think of a host at a restaurant, or tour guide. They know their menu and terrain, and have the goal of providing an enjoyable experience, but if you compare your meal or excursion to a friend's, they will not be exactly the same.

It is okay if every student does not have the same exact experience. 

2. Wait to create curriculum until you meet your students.

This might sound impossible, but is it?

3. Create projects rather than tests.

No two projects should look exactly the same, unless students choose to collaborate with each other.

4. Have a general focus and direction in mind for each unit of study, with topics and activities you see as beneficial for students, but allow for plenty of choice within those units.

Be ready to go in a direction you could not have predicted. This will take the pressure off of pace, and put the focus on learning for each student.

5. Find out how your students best learn, and share this information about yourself with them as well.

Respect these differences.

6. Create opportunities for them to think, explore, and reflect as much as possible.

Ask questions without correct answers. Inspire them to be curious.