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Selecting Tools to Guide Learning

From the series: Developing Students’ Ownership of Learning—from a Distance, too!

Post #4: Selecting Tools to Guide Learning 

Let’s continue our journey to developing assessment-capable, visible learners. At this point, students know what they are supposed to be learning, what success looks like, how they can monitor their progress, and how to take on the challenge of learning. The next step is to guide students in selecting tools for their learning. 

There should be a link between teaching and learning. Of course, we recognize that sometimes that link is broken. But ideally, the tools that are used for teaching impact students’ learning.  And if we want students to become their own teachers, we will need to allow them opportunities to select tools that work for them. We did not say that teachers should provide an endless list of tools, but rather that teachers should provide students with some choices when it comes to the selection of tools that will help their learning. 

How Can Teachers Help Students Select Learning Tools? 

Let’s take graphic organizers as a simple example. At the start of the year, you might introduce students to a range of types. For example, there may be ways to visually represent comparing and contrasting. When students have been taught these ways, they can then have opportunities to select from those tools when the time comes. Of course, they may make a bad choice and then have an opportunity to learn more about the strategic selection of learning tools.   

Study skills represent another area in which students should be able to exercise some degree of choice. There are a lot of right ways to study, and probably some wrong ways. Students can be provided choices in terms of their study habits once they understand the options that are available. As students make choices, they are developing their skills and becoming assessment-capable, visible learners. And they are much more likely to teach themselves in the future as a result. 

Lessons: Selecting Tools to Guide Learning 

In these pages, you’ll find lessons that introduce students to various learning tools and ways to get them thinking about which of them would be useful: 

Looking Ahead 

In our next post in this series, we’ll explain how helping students learn how to solicit feedback is key to ensuring their development as assessment-capable visible learners.    

Written by

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is the recipient of an IRA Celebrate Literacy Award, NCTE’s Farmer Award for Excellence in Writing, as well as a Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. He is also the author of PLC+, The PLC+ Playbook, This is Balanced Literacy, The Teacher Clarity Playbook, Grades K-12, Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom for Grades K-5 and 6-12, Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12The Teacher Credibility and Collective Efficacy Playbook and several other Corwin books.  Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is Professor of Literacy in the Department of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. The recipient of the 2008 Early Career Achievement Award from the National Reading Conference, she is also a teacher-leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College and a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California. She has been a prominent Corwin author, publishing numerous books including PLC+The PLC+ PlaybookThis is Balanced LiteracyThe Teacher Clarity Playbook, Grades K-12Engagement by DesignRigorous Reading, Texas EditionThe Teacher Credibility and Collective Efficacy Playbookand many more.  To view Doug and Nancy’s books and services, please visit Fisher and Frey Professional Learning. 

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