Learner-Centered Focus

I’ve been preparing for the staff development session I’ll be conducting soon with my grade level teams, and I’ve decided to focus on learners as a theme.  What does it mean to have a learner-centered classroom?  As we continue to work to define what it will take to adequately prepare 21st Century graduates, a recurring theme is that classes need to be learner-centered instead of teacher-centered.  Is there a difference between a student and a learner?  These videos from the Council on 21st Century Learning provide some clues:

What makes a good learner? It’s an idea that is worth exploring!
http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/sucessfullearners

The faculty of the University of Oregon generated a list of almost 50 characteristics of a good learner.  As my district has been working toward implementing a Schools of the Future initiative, much work has been done to develop a draft of a Learning Continuum that provides a picture of what 21st Century teaching and learning should look like.  It’s a rubric that defines expectations at 4 developmental levels: Entry > Developing > Approaching > Ideal/Target.  The strands are based on 4 of the ISTE NETS for Students: Research & Information Fluency, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Collaboration & Communication, and Creativity & Innovation.  Digital Citizenship has been interwoven throughout the document.  I love that this rubric expects the development of 21st Century learning skills in teachers and administrators, as well as students! Ultimately we all must be life-long learners, and we need the skills that are necessary to facilitate our own learning.

My next thought about learners took me to the RISC model and the Adams 50 standards-based educational model videos.  It’s not embeddable, so if you’re interested, scroll down to the video entitled, “Learning Should Be Full of Passion.” This is a 2 minute video, illustrated and narrated by a student, that briefly describes one type of learner-centered classroom.

As I continued thinking about learning, I realized that as teachers, we, too, are learners, and we need to take some responsibility for our own 21st Century learning.  Teachers at my school have many more responsibilities than they have minutes in the day.  Even so, I’ve been impressed with how many of them make a little time in the evening to visit Facebook.  My teachers already have Google accounts, so I’m going to introduce them to Google Reader.  I’ve selected a few blogs for them and will teach them how to subscribe.  I’m using ShareTabs as the means of sharing the links with them (such as Teachers Love SMART Boards and Langwitches Blog), and I’m going to challenge them to spend 5 minutes 1 day a week reading something from their Google Reader while they are online checking Facebook.  I’m hopeful that as teachers, we can model being motivated, self-directed learners!

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