Student centered learning

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In the past I’ve tried to let students decide what they wanted to learn about but for different reasons they haven’t always worked out.  For instance the Year 10 art class were really excited about the idea of designing and painting their own skateboards.  The skateboards were $90 each which was a discounted rate but still pretty expensive for us.  Initially the class was all on board we were going to do cake stalls and raffles to help raise the money so that all 24 kids in the class could have a skateboard to paint their own design on.  When it came to the first day of the cake stall about 6 students and myself had made the effort to do some baking,a couple more joined us at lunchtime to help man the stall and we made around $130.  We decided to do it again the following week this time one student’s mother did a tonne of baking and put together a raffle for us to sell,there was just two other students who brought something along.  When I put it to the class that only some kids were pulling their weight in the fundraising efforts the ones who weren’t contributing said they didn’t want to do it anymore anyway,it was too hard and involved too much of their time.  So we ended up with a bit of a stalemate and I wasn’t really sure how to take it from there.

We ended up dividing the money between the students who did actively contribute and they got skateboards.  We also had a skateboard business from Whangarei come and set up a skate park at the school for the day which everyone got to enjoy which was a lot of fun but we didn’t reach the goal of everyone earning their own skate board.   This was 3 years ago now,I was still fairly green at teaching and I like to think I’d do things differently next time.

I came across this fantastic video today where a teacher in the USA is putting her students first and letting them direct their learning.  This is exactly the kind of things I would like to be doing in my classes when I return to teaching next year.

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