From the series: Developing Students’ Ownership of Learning—from a Distance, too!
Over the past several years, we have worked together with our colleague John Hattie to identify key practices that help students develop ownership of their learning. We believe that students can—and should—become their own teachers. And we believe that teachers have a profound role to play in helping students accomplish that goal. Perhaps most importantly, we firmly believe that this is still all possible within the current context of social distancing practices. In fact, these imperatives hold even more relevance now, as we strive to ensure that student learners find success in every learning mode and context they may encounter on their learning journeys.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to delve more deeply into this idea of empowering students to own their own learning. And we’ll share a series of practical lessons that will help you support students as they make the leap into taking this ownership—even in the midst of challenging and sometimes difficult-to-navigate educational circumstances.
What Exactly is an Assessment-Capable Visible Learner?
When students own their learning and begin to teach themselves, we say that they are “assessment-capable,” visible learners. There are several indicators we look for when identifying those students who meet the criteria of assessment-capable, visible learners. These students can be characterized as learners who . . .
- Know their current level of understanding
- Understand where they’re going and have the confidence to take on the challenge
- Select tools to guide their learning
- Seek feedback and recognize that errors are opportunities to learn
- Monitor progress and adjust their learning
- Recognize their learning and teach others
Of course, fostering these skills requires teachers to be assessment-capable themselves and to provide students with opportunities to practice and apply the skills required to become assessment-capable, visible learners.
How Do I Get Started? Simple Lessons to Drive Students’ Ownership of Their Learning
In our Becoming An Assessment-Capable Visible Learner books for grades 3-5 and 6-12, we worked alongside Karen Flories and John Hattie to craft lessons that are impactful and easy-to-implement. Every other week, we will provide you with sample lessons from these books, including both teacher and student pages. You’ll be able to immediately download and use these as you develop plans for your particular teaching and learning environment.
We recognize that “distance learning,” does not always mean virtual and digital. Depending on the realities in your district or school, you may need to physically print pages and drop them in a place where students can retrieve them. Regardless, we hope that that this presents an opportunity for you to develop some habits with students that will serve them well—whatever the learning context may be.
Lesson: What is Learning? Grades 6-12
We’d like to start with students focusing on the question, what is learning? Maybe they have taken this for granted. Maybe they haven’t considered what learning will be like from a distance. So, we encourage you to start by surveying students. It’s a great starting point or check-in point for gauging any changes in students’ experiences with school over time. Once they take the survey in the lesson, you might ask them to reflect on their results or perhaps have an online discussion about it. We developed a tool for use in grades 6–12, but this could be adapted for use with younger students.
Lesson: Ensuring Students Know What They Are Learning and What Success Looks Like, Grades 3-5 and 6-12
Teacher clarity is an accelerator of students’ learning and we should be thinking about that as we change the environments in which students learn. Part of teacher clarity is ensuring that students know what they are learning (learning intentions) and what success looks like (success criteria). We hope that the distance learning isn’t distracting for students but rather presents an opportunity for them to keep learning. To encourage this, we suggest that you become even more explicit about learning intentions and success criteria for each lesson. To help students understand what learning intentions and success criteria are and how they work, we have developed these lessons.
View sample lessons about Learning Intentions here:
View sample lessons about Success Criteria here:
In our next post in this series, we’ll take a closer look at how to help students monitor their progress. And, we’ll begin to answer that elusive question facing students as they work to gain proficiency: How do I know if I’m on the right path?