What Are Some Improvements and Reflections For Next Year?
Based on the quantitative and qualitative data collected, there will be some changes to our current self-directed learning system in order to improve for next year. These reflections and ideas can be seen below:
- Create a Google Form that strives to document the Essential Elements of the PYP (knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and actions) within self-directed learning. This will also encourage students to find more balance in what they are learning about and how they are choosing to share their learning. There will be no expectations of balance, but when students are tracking their own learning tendencies, their observations might lead them to initiate a more well-rounded approach to self-directed learning, rather than spending the first four months learning about different animal adaptations. A laminated menu of the Social Studies, Science and Personal/Social/Physical Education knowledge strand documents for the class would be a helpful resource for them to see to what degree they could start exploring their learning tendencies in the lens of the PYP knowledge base. This is not something I would recommend for those who are new to self-directed learning. However, since it's something I'm looking to collect data on going into my second year, I'd like to trial it for a while to see whether it's helpful or a hindrance.
- Keep the self-directed learning projection. Writing down their learning goals helps them stay focused and anchors more disciplined and purposeful inquiry. It gives them practice in reading/learning with a question in mind, rather than aimlessly surfing the Internet. The projection is just that--it is not a contract. It promotes reflective and thoughtful inquiry, rather than reactive and directionless wandering.
- Provide more days for students to share out and celebrate their learning. It will be important to create a better system for sharing amongst themselves, the year-level, the school community and the world. We want their learning to become more authentically shared, such as through the @Y5NIST Twitter account, as well as on their blogs and through email. Although the authentic and organic sharing is preferred, it will be important to also intentionally create days to bring everyone back together to build enthusiasm, celebrate achievements and inspire their peers.
- Find examples and models of learning stories or "products" where student have applied visual design techniques and fair-use attribution. Collect a variety of visual modes that exemplify quality storytelling of their learning (both the process or the product) to inspire students and raise the bar for effective communication.
- Open the dialogue for more intentional design and making to be integrated into self-directed learning. How can we utilize the elementary Makerspace more effectively during this time? How can we provoke and expose students to spark potential making opportunities? How do we teach safe use of tools and how do we supervise in this area? Students can only conceptualize what they've been exposed to. Therefore, how can we expose more design thinking and making to them throughout the year to see if it naturally transfers over to the impassioned during self-directed learning.
- How do we track and value the process of learning? Could students keep a process journal where they write one sentence a day recording what they did to help them achieve their learning goal? Would this become arbitrary or irritating for the students? How do we find balance with this so students do not overvalue the product, and become reflectively aware of their chosen learning process?
- How could we include more peer-to-peer editing in their writing (within their final "product") while not making it feel like a chore for the editor or the writer? How do we place more emphasis on quality writing when publishing or sharing out their new learning? Should students have to quickly sit down with a teacher to edit before moving onto their next SDL? It seems like without certain oversights, there seems to be the potential for students to become sloppy and careless with their communication skills--both writing and visual design. How do we avoid their semi-natural tendency to value quantity over quality without sacrificing the "self" in self-directed learning?
- Try to get some better digital cameras in the class so students can create more professional looking visual media. The resolution and clarity from iPad photos and videos do not capture the quality of the learning many have the potential to tell. In order to effectively communicate in the modern age, emphasis on quality visual media is key. How do we instill the importance of powerful and intentional photography and videography for those who choose to communicate their learning story through those lenses?
- Make sure students continue to have access to a student printer to free up more teacher time for coaching and guidance. Have more resources on hand in an accessible locations for students to use without teacher assistance. The more students can do on their own, the better. At times, it felt like teachers became "go-fors" to connect students to their physical resources. Our jobs as connectors should be to help connect students to human resources and nudge them into learning resources that might be just beyond their scope of awareness.
- How do we ensure that certain inquiries are not becoming too knowledge-based and arbitrary? How can students identify when their learning is becoming less conceptual? Although their questions on the self-directed learning projection are often conceptual, the resources they have access to at a child-friendly level are seemingly more knowledge-based and factual. Maybe it will be important to have a visual resource that students can reflect upon that asks them how and whether their learning can be transferred and applied to different contexts?
- How can I help students value the process of getting stuck, and then getting unstuck? How do we balance being stuck with inefficient use of learning time? When is it appropriate for me to allow them to be stuck, nudge them out or offer a helping hand? It can be a hard thing to patiently watch a student struggle for hours to access the learning resources that could help them, when a simple name drop of a keyword or connection with a website could help them move forward. But running to their rescue can be equally detrimental to their learning, so exploring this balance will be a goal of mine this year.