Thursday, December 04, 2008

Self managing learners

Students working together know what to do and how to go about it even if they don't know exactly what they will discover; they are exhibiting the attributes of 'self-managing learners'. Although a science 'lesson' it equally could have been undertaken during literacy or maths time as a means to introduce scientific recording for later use in a p.m. inquiry time?

Self managing is a 'key competency' both for the smooth running of a inquiry based classroom and to develop vital life long learning capabilities. As such it is highly related to future success. When students are 'self managing' it allows teachers the time to work with students who need help.

If students are to become 'active seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge' then self managing skills need to be 'taught' deliberately as an important goal of any classroom. The best way to see if students are self-managing is when the teacher leaves the room . As Art Costa says, if you do , on your return, 'what intelligent behaviours would you hope to see?'

What we want are students with a 'can do' attitude who are 'resourceful, reliable, resilient' and responsible. Or as the Placemakers ad goes, students with, 'Know how. Can do' plus additional phrases , 'Don't know how.Will give it a go'.

When teachers observe students exhibiting self-managing skills they ought to give students, or the class, credit for being such great learners.

For students to be able to develop this competency they need to know: what, when , why and how they are to go about the task -and the task ought to be one that is meaningful to them.

As time is limited for afternoon Inquiry study many of the skills need to be taught in the literacy or numeracy blocks.

This obvious solution is not often seen as these blocks are all too often taught as self contained programmes.

The 'new' curriculum makes it clear that English is all about 'making meaning' of ideas and 'creating meaning' for themselves - all teachers need to do is to use the inquiry topic as the context to do so.

Teachers need to ask themselves what independent activities can their students do by themselves?

Can they work without your presence .Leave the room for a while and see if they can.If not why, and what needs to be done.

Do they know what to do when they do not know what to do, or do they mess around until told? Do they have the attitude that there is aways work to go on with when finished -even just reading their library book?

Can they read quietly by themselves?

Are the tasks on the blackboard/task boards clear enough for students to work with minimal help?

Have they learnt the importance of not rushing their work to be first finished; that quality is more important than quantity? That they need aways to focus on personal excellence and be able to show improvement.

Do they have the co-operative learning/ discussion/listening skills to work together on a task?

Do they have the research skills ( comprehension skills) to gather information from a range of sources ( including the Internet) using key questions?

Are they able to draft out their observations, or notes, from experiments. If not teach these in the literacy block as required. Do they know how to proof read for errors of thought and for spelling? Do they know how to attempt a word they can't spell or read?

Do they have the design and presentation skills to ensure their work has aesthetic value and will be noticed? This includes use of ICT.
Do they know how to lay out their work to best effect. Such skills need to be taught in the literacy block.

Have they work , drafted in the literacy block, to make finished copies of independently in the afternoon inquiry time?

Do they have the skills of observational drawing, are they able to make graphs or diagrams if needed? Are they skilled in the ability to express their thoughts poetically if required?

Are they able to work outside without losing concentration?

By term 3 or 4 are the students able to plan and complete an inquiry topic of their own choosing making use of all the inquiry learning skills that have been introduced during the year during class and group studies? This activity is an ideal task to assess student inquiry and self managing skills.

If teachers want their students to exhibit self manging competencies then they need to consider what skills and attitudes need to be in place before students undertake any piece of learning. If students do not have the skills to do what is asked of them this is the teachers problem.

The teachers role is to develop the competencies in their students required to become 'confident,actively involved, life long learners'.

Teachers need to focus all their teaching on helping every student become a 'seeker, user, and creator of their own learning'.

1 comment:

Dr. Sanford Aranoff said...

"they need to consider what skills and attitudes need to be in place before students undertake any piece of learning" Excellent! In addition, we need to understand how students think, and build from there. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.