What is Student Centered Learning?

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As New Hampshire transitions to a student-centered learning model, parents are wondering: what exactly is student-centered learning? We break it down here:

Student-centered learning is personalized

  • In this Maine school, an elementary school student shows that he knows the math concepts covered in class by creating a board game that integrates statistics, exponents, and basic math. (Reaching Higher NH)
  • Technology can help: digital media gives students options and helps them practice independent work skills, and “clickers”  can help teachers see trouble spots instantly. (Edutopia)

It’s competency-based

  • Under a competency-based system, students move on to the next topic or lesson when they demonstrate mastery of the previous topic, rather than moving the whole class at once when some students may not grasp concepts (CompetencyWorks)
  • Competency-based schools measure how much a student has learned, not how long they’ve spent trying to learn it – how well can the student apply the skills. (NPR)
  • And there are increased expectations: “students are reading complex, difficult texts… they’re digging deeper and reading for understanding, making connections, asking questions, taking note of things that they find interesting,” says Sara Cantrell, 4th grade teacher in Rochester, NH. (Reaching Higher NH)

It happens anytime, anywhere

  • “Extended learning opportunities” (ELO’s) match students with community mentors in projects that allow them to apply knowledge and skills. (Pittsfield Middle High School)
  • Students who aren’t successful in traditional classroom settings see other ways to learn and be successful: “School taught me I wasn’t very bright and life taught me school was wrong,” says Fred Bramante, former chairman of the NH State Board of Education. (Concord Monitor)
  • Blended learning, which integrates technology into the classroom, can be done at home or anywhere, allowing students to work at their own pace. (Reaching Higher NH)

Students take ownership of their learning

  • Pittsfield Middle High School students are responsible for where, when, and how they learn, and are involved in school governance–preparing them to be adults in “every sense of the word.” (Reaching Higher NH)
  • Meaningful student involvement, whether advocating for school change or choosing curriculum, leadership activities, or extracurricular programs, students feel connected and involved in their school, education, and communities. (Educational Leadership)

Reaching Higher NH is dedicated to fostering support for high standards in our public schools, giving all New Hampshire children the opportunity to prepare for college, for immediate careers and for the challenges and opportunities of life in 21st century New Hampshire.

Find out more about student-centered learning at Reaching Higher NH.