Having a common understanding of effective learning is key. The research done by the Peer-Ed Team shows that “school-wide improvement in student achievement occurs only in schools where teachers and administrators have explicitly created a shared norm about effective learning."
Effective student learning includes:
- critical and creative thinking;
- a student-centered task, that is clearly aligned with the objectives and a matching assessment that looks for evidence of learning from the task;
- communication of learning;
- collaboration (this does not need to be the entire time);
- an authentic, engaging problem;
- empowering and engaging students in their learning, thereby enabling them to own their learning;
- technology integration that enhances learning (and teaching) throughout the lesson;
- creating meaning by connecting to what they already know (a constructivist approach);
- receiving feedback;
- and, reflection.
Creating student-centered tasks
If it's a mini-lesson, I think about what the students could do to demonstrate their learning (evidence of learning), and this would become their task. I also try to consider Multiple Intelligences and 21st century learning skills.
When I asked some of our Collaboration Coaches this question and I used the example of compound words, they came up with a variety of quick tasks such as:
- have students with the singular noun written on a white board, (have the student describe what the one word means or act it out), and when they stand together, they make the compound word (followed with students explaining / acting out how their word changed when it became a compound word);
- or, have students coin their own compound words based on their interests such as "skateball," and discuss its meaning. They could even write it out, or draw a picture about what their new word would look like. (Thanks Marla and Katrina for these ideas!)
I may even look at this task template to help spark ideas, then instead of using their suggestion of always writing an essay, I'd have them create:
- blog posts and quality comments;
- audio narrations or digital stories;
- their own books;
- publish their research on Wikipedia;
- or, use other mediums to share via Web 2.0 tools in order to connect with an authentic audience.
The bottom line is it's about creating student-centered learning tasks that have value and are worth doing.
- How do you create student-centered tasks?
- What do you believe effective learning is?
- How else did this post connect with you?