"Homework, worksheets, workbook, finish your work" have one thing in common: work!
I will share how to take practical steps away from a work-oriented environment towards a learning-centered one.
Image retrieved from: Amazon
One of my fellow colleagues, Dr. Elena Zapico - our school’s Project Zero coordinator - shared Ron Ritchhart’s research on Cultures of Thinking. In it, Ritchhart points out the overwhelming use of the word “work” in schools (e.g. homework, workbook, worksheet, finish your work, nice work, etc...) and the underlying assumption that work will result in learning.
In contrast, he proposes the use of learning-focused vocabulary that highlights the students' understanding process.
Ritchhart states that “in a learning-oriented classroom, teachers and students focus their attention on the learning as the priority, letting the work exist in context and serve the learning.”
I decided to start by tackling “worksheets”. I have always liked using some form of “worksheet” to guide my students through course content. I wondered how could I transform a “worksheet” into a learner-centered resource.
My first step was a name change:
from worksheet to Learning Guide
Of course, just a name change isn't truly transformative as the SAMR model demonstrates.
With that in mind, I knew I needed a platform that would allow students to document their learning in that way.
Enter Google Docs
Once I defined the platform used to design and develop the Learning Guide,
I outlined key aspects that differentiated this form of learning from a worksheet:
Step-by-Step: Creating a Learning Guide
Concern: Ease of Navigation
I mentioned previously that my idea was to have one learning guide per unit.
As you saw in the video, the Google document was several pages long (over 9 pages without student input)!
How were my students going to easily navigate through that many pages?
Solution #1: Table of Contents
I created headings to each section ("Exploration") that my students would complete.
With these headings, I was able to generate a Table of Contents (ToC) that automatically generated links to the various sections inside the Learning Guide.
Solution #2: HOME "button"
Once students were able to navigate to the Explorations easily, I had to find a way to make it easy to go back to the ToC.
I decided to create a "HOME button" that would link back to the ToC.
To do this, I:
a. created a bookmark with the text "Table of Contents" which generated a link
b. copied the link
c. created an embedded hyperlink to the text "HOME" which I placed within the header of my document so it would
appear on every page
Watch the clip below to see how I made the Learning Guide easy to navigate:
Distributing the Learning Guides to Students
My school has access to Google Classroom so I just attached the Learning Guide to an assignment and made sure to check that "Each student will get a copy"
***Note: Students must have a Gmail account to do this***
Documenting Student Learning
It easily differentiates as students will write and document in the most meaningful way for themselves.
I make sure to provide the structure to guide them with the use of tables, visuals and most importantly clear instructions.
Google Docs makes it easy for students to write, insert images and embed hyperlinks to external resources that contribute to their learning.
Providing Effective Feedback
Image retrieved from: lawyernomics
Teachers can provide effective feedback to their students through the use of comments.
I can easily highlight information and provide personalized feedback to each student.
Share Your Thoughts
This concept is still a "learning-in-progress" and I would appreciate your feedback on how this can be improved.
Please comment below to share your ideas!