Teacher Moves That Cultivate Learner Agency — from edutopia.org by Paul Emerich France
Helping students become independent, questioning thinkers begins with stepping back and guiding them to take the lead in their learning.

Excerpt:

Cultivating learner agency is an endless journey. It not only entails knowing our students as human beings but also requires identifying and unlearning patterns in our teaching that unknowingly engender dependence in learners.

The term agency comes from the Latin agere, meaning “to set in motion.” It is precisely what agency should do in our classrooms: empower learners so that their minds and hearts become the engines that drive learning in our classrooms. This isn’t as simple as some might believe. Providing too much voice and choice without proper scaffolds can be counterproductive, resulting in chaos in the classroom.

Consider the following moves that cultivate learner agency—and choose one to try in your classroom.

 
 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 

Seeing the possibilities, I finally took a chance. I studied English, political science and finite math, and each class I passed deepened my confidence and self-love.

This growing self-love was key to my academic development. Growing up, I didn’t experience much real love, outside of my mother and a few family members. I most often encountered the kind of false love expressed through violence and monetary possessions. College changed the way I thought about myself and others. I worked hand-in-hand with men from all backgrounds to complete assignments, and even taught other students. Before I knew it, I was getting A’s on my essays and solving quadratic equations in math class.

When people question why it’s important to educate prisoners, I remind them that to see change, we must support change. We must give individuals the opportunity to see themselves as more than the harm they’ve caused, more than what was once broken within them.

Christopher Blackwell

Also relevant/see:

Calvin University's Prison Initiative

 

University Behind Bars

 

A Conversation with Ken Robinson’s Daughter about Their New Book on Transforming Education — from betterhumans.pub by Eva Keiffenheim
Kate Robinson and Co-Author of Imagine if — Creating a Future for us All

Excerpt:

In writing the book, we highlighted ten “Manifesto Statements” that really summarize the key points the book is making.

The main themes of them are:

  • we are all born with immense creative capacities
  • our incredible powers of imagination are what separates us from the rest of life on Earth
  • Education systems are based on conformity
  • real life thrives on diversity
  • we are in the midst of two climate crises: the crisis of the Earth’s natural resources, and the crisis of our human resources
  • and no matter who you are, you are the system — if you change your behavior, you have changed the system, and when enough people commit to changing the system, we have a revolution that will change the world

According to Imagine if…, the future will be grim unless we take action to change the course where we’re heading. What actions need to be taken and what needs to be done and how? Where do we start?

The first and most important step is to embrace a richer conception of human intelligence. Like any ecosystem, our cultural ecosystems depend on a wide variety of talents, interests, and capabilities to thrive. Therefore, we must actively encourage each person to connect with and make the most of their own abilities and passions.

 

Want Students Who Think for Themselves? Let’s Eliminate Our Standardized School System — from edsurge.com by Zachary Morita

Excerpt:

It is a wake-up call when a student feels defeated by an educational system that focuses on standardizing students who feel like they are “the problem.” We can’t expect students to understand the purpose of education on their own. They need educators, leaders and supporters to guide them to create the education system they deserve to succeed in life. I stand by what I share with all of my students: that we must reimagine and redesign our education system so that students are NOT the problem.

Instead, we must ensure that learners are intrinsically motivated through learning activities that are challenging, purposeful, relevant and empowering.

 

Nurturing Non-STEM Gifted Kids and Meeting Their Needs — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

But what about that kid who doesn’t want a new chemistry set or microscope for Christmas? What about the gifted kid who doesn’t really get your science puns? What about the brilliant child who isn’t into STEM at all?

They’re rare, but they’re out there. Artists, chefs, readers, writers, dancers, musicians, linguists, all of the above. Kids who like space just fine, but like nature even more. Gifted kids who can crush their math work but would rather crush pigments. Gifted kids who can learn to code, but whose heart swells when guitar strings strum. Brilliant babes who appreciate the arts, the stories, or are just filled with curiosity that isn’t subject-specific. You see, intelligence isn’t a stereotype. An IQ score isn’t like a horoscope. Scoring a few standard deviations above the norm doesn’t dictate your personality, your likes, dislikes, talents, passions, or hobbies. It means your brain processes information differently than the majority of the population. That’s really it. Intelligence and brilliance are as likely to be found on a stage as they are in a lab. For every Einstein there is a Beethoven, for every Musk there’s a Spielberg.

What Can You Recommend For Students Who Finish Their Work Early? — from teachthought.com

Excerpt:

How to respond when students finish their work early is a classic teacher challenge.

Most of it boils down to lesson design–creating learning opportunities where students are naturally funneled toward extending, improving, and sharing their work so that ‘stopping points’ are more of a matter of scheduling than learning itself.

Motivating your child with ADHD: 7 tips for your homeschool — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

This series is all about homeschooling a child with ADHD. Today, we are discussing 7 of our best tips for motivating a child with ADHD.

Preparing Kids With Real-World Skills via Ed-Tech — from emergingedtech.com by Kelly Walsh

Excerpt:

Educational technologies enable children to learn things on a whole new level, broadening their minds and their capabilities. The practical applications alone make ed-tech a highly valuable tool in the classroom setting, but these technologies also can enhance kids’ skills as well as their emotional and cultural awareness and intelligence, which can better prepare them for real-world situations and scenarios.

Edumilestones Has Launched Career Lab™ For Progressive Schools — from edtechreview.in

Excerpt:

Edumilestones, a pioneer in career guidance platform has now launched a next-generation Career Lab™ for schools. Based on 11 years of experience in career counselling industry, this technology is set to help students to identify and execute their career goals with clarity and confidence.

 

Why some teams boost motivation while others totally sap it — from psyche.co by Ann-Kathrin Torka, Jens Mazei, Joachim Hüffmeieris, and edited by Matt Huston. With thanks to Mr. Tom Barrett for this resource via his weekly newsletter.

Excerpts:

In contrast, when people perceive their contribution to the team’s outcome as indispensable, they tend to show greater effort than they would when working alone. These ‘effort gains’ can be due to team members aiming to be prosocial: they care about others and want to make a difference to the team. By helping their team succeed, members also feel better about themselves – they can see themselves as helpful and competent human beings.

Managers, instructors, coaches, and other leaders can use this knowledge to design teamwork that boosts team members’ efforts. Remember the student from the introduction: maybe she felt that she could not contribute much to the academic team because the project did not include a specific (sub-)taskfor her to work on and to feel responsible for. If the instructor or a teammate had broken down the project into subtasks for each member, she might have felt that her efforts were indispensable.

 

 

See the Appvent calendar from ICT Evangelist

Excerpt from this posting:

Welcome to day 21 of the 2021 Appvent Calendar. It’s been so much fun sharing all of these amazing tools each day across the month so far. With Google featuring twice already on the calendar, it’s great to share again the awe and wonder of human history in the arts and within our cultures with the sharing of this amazing free app. Thanks to Gustavo Calderón De Anda for suggesting it!

Also see:

  • 14 measurement apps for teaching math & science — from teachthought and Glenda Stewart-Smith
    Glenda Stewart-Smith of Surrey School District #36 in Canada, along with TeachThought staff, helped put together this collection of iPhone and iPad apps that offer all of these measuring abilities and more.
 

What motivates students to learn? — from edte.ch by Tom Barrett
In this article, we explore the key factors that influence and predict student academic motivation.

Excerpt:

Here are the top three ranked, according to this meta-analysis, from l’Université Laval, Monash University and Curtin University.

1 — Competence (I can do this!)
2 — Autonomy (I get to choose)
3 — Belonging (I am not alone)

 


From DSC:
I’m once again reminded of the following graphic:

Tom’s posting also reminds me of the power of storytelling, as Tom makes a solid point:

A notable missing piece of the student motivation paper is the role of emotion in learning. When I search the document for reference to ‘emotion’, the only returns I get are from citations and other works.

Along these lines, see/listen to:


 

The Push-Pull of Leading Motivation Using Microlearning — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Robyn Defelice

Excerpt:

So, let’s pick up from there: You’re a learning leader in an organization that has aligned all these elements and is ready to see microlearning put to good use. So, what’s the obstacle in your path?

Maybe you’re stuck on using microlearning as a motivational tool for performance growth but are not sure if a formal or informal approach will have more appeal. Should you push or pull, as they ask. Let’s get you out of this tug-of-war and address how your L&D team can lead the way in motivating the learning audience for new performance gains by implementing a microlearning campaign (or two or three)!

Push (formal) vs pull (informal)

 

3 Tips for Making Passion-Based Learning Work Successfully — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce

Excerpt:

Passion-based learning, a form of self-directed learning in which students pursue projects of interest to them, is becoming more popular in schools — and for good reason: Educators who have set aside time for passion-based learning have discovered that students become highly engaged and motivated when learning about topics that intrigue them, while taking their learning much deeper than they would in a traditional lesson.

 

3 Tips for Making Passion-Based Learning Work Successfully — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce

Excerpt:

Passion-based learning, a form of self-directed learning in which students pursue projects of interest to them, is becoming more popular in schools — and for good reason: Educators who have set aside time for passion-based learning have discovered that students become highly engaged and motivated when learning about topics that intrigue them, while taking their learning much deeper than they would in a traditional lesson.

Passion-based learning initiatives include Genius Hour and 20time, both inspired by Google’s program that lets employees spend 20% of their time on projects of their choosing to spark innovation.

Giving all students the option to explore their interests can be challenging on a large scale. To overcome this hurdle and make the process easier for teachers, Sonora Elementary uses a new peer-to-peer learning platform called Tract, which is a collection of video content organized into self-directed learning paths.

tract.app allows students to be creative and practice their storytelling and multimedia skills

From DSC:
I love the type of tool/app like Tract — as students can work on a variety of skills:

  • multimedia development
  • music
  • acting
  • writing/composing
  • digital storytelling
  • …and more

Such projects/tools can unleash a great deal of creativity, engagement, and positive energy. Learning becomes more relevant, enjoyable, and interesting when we can provide more choice and control to our students.

 

Active Learning: 5 Tips for Implementing the Approach — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Active learning provides ways to get your students engaged without needing to revamp how you teach.

Excerpts:

However, neither listening to a lecture or reading a textbook is the most efficient way to learn or what active learning is truly about. “What exactly do we mean by active learning?” Deslauriers says.  “We mean that first, you have to be engaged. Obviously, that’s number one. Number two, you have to be engaged productively. And number three, the productivity has to be toward a goal that is deemed worthwhile*.”

— Louis Deslauriers, Director of Science Teaching and Learning
in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University


From DSC:
I appreciated seeing/reading this solid article. Just a couple of reflections and highlights here…


* But worthwhile for whom? For the faculty members? The teachers? The trainers? Or for the learners, the students, or the employees? Where is agency here? Where does more choice and control come into play here? Where’s the motivation for me to learn something if someone keeps telling me what’s important to THEM? What’s relevant to THEM? Why should I care about this topic? How is it relevant? How will it help me get a job and/or make a positive difference in this world? Can I choose how deep I want to dive in?

Later…Deslauriers goes on to make a great point when urging a pause for students to practice some metacognition:

  • Does this make sense to me?
  • How is this relevant? <– DSC: There it is.
  • Does it connect with something I already know? And if so, how do I integrate with what I already know?
  • What sort of questions do I have right now?
  • Can I repeat what the instructor just did? Or is it going to require a lot of practice?

“There’s no way you can undergo these mental processes when someone keeps talking,”  Deslauriers says. But if educators pause during their lectures and encourage this type of focus, they can help their students learn more efficiently.


 Instructors can hand out electronic clickers, use web-based tools such as Google forms, or even go completely low-tech by giving color-coded cards to students that correspond to different answers. 


Also see:

 

Why “Challenging” Isn’t The Right Goal — from byrdseed.com by Ian Byrd

Excerpt:

If I asked you to alphabetize the US state capitals in under 90 seconds, you’d certainly be “challenged”! But you’d also feel stressed out and frustrated.

I wish I had realized this years ago. Something can be “challenging” and also be at the very bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Something can be “challenging” and even impede learning.

So here’s the word I use now when I’m planning lessons for Byrdseed.TV: interesting.

I want to “interest” students. A student who is interested will work over the weekend simply because they want to know more. An interested student will stay in from recess by choice to keep at it. An interested student is intrinsically motivated.

From DSC:
This reminds me yet again of this graphic that readers of this blog will recognize:

In the future, learning channels will offer us more choice and more control

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian