This Maine teacher shows how multiple chances to demonstrate competency can be a learning opportunity for students

Daniel J. Bakie Elementary School

Courtney Belolan, a teacher and teaching coach in Maine’s RSU 2 school district, which serves communities north of Augusta, explains how student-centered learning can mimic and prepare students for real-life scenarios in her blog:

If we want to create some of the real-world-esque scenarios around things like deadlines and retakes, we have to start thinking about setting up comparable hassles for our students.  Giving students multiple opportunities to show what they know means giving second chances, maybe even third chances, but not without some work on their end.

What happens when you are planning a group presentation, and one member doesn’t do their part?  The presentations stinks, or is clearly lopsided.  Perhaps the group members get annoyed with one another, and the slacker never gets invited to be a part of that kind of opportunity again.  What about if you are late paying a bill?  Maybe now you have to pay more.  Depending on who you owe the money to, it can be a real hassle to correct the late payment.  On the whole, however, we always have a second opportunity or a chance to fix the problem in real life.

This approach is often met with resistance.  The feeling often is that, if we give students too many chances, they won’t put in the effort to do it correctly the first time. But we all get second chances, and there are ways to make it a learning process rather than regurgitation of the same material.  Belolanc suggests requiring an “error analysis,” in which students explain what they got wrong on an assignment and why, and making the redo assignment comparable but different (a different question or different assessment type).  This process also enables teachers to give feedback and set goals based on where students can improve.  They can then apply that feedback to the next project, allowing students to track their growth and improve their work.

That’s what student centered learning is all about: putting students in control of their learning, holding them accountable for their work, and preparing them for life after graduation.

Read the full post here.