Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Active Learning Boot Camp

Yesterday we talked about our Middle Ages unit and how the structure of class instruction was going to change. We talked for a bit about how, for much of their lives, the kiddos have been passive receptors of content. We give it to them, they "learn" it as best they can, we test them on it, they promptly forget it. The cycle continues the next year. It is this passive learning cycle we are trying to break. I told them that it is time to use the last eight weeks of school for an Active Learning Boot Camp!

I gave the kids the learning goals, the resource page (a Google Doc with the online, book and video resource links) for them to use according to how they learn best. "You are in charge!" I told them. We talked about the schedule, how they would have 4-5 days to master each learning goal using whatever resources they felt would help them the most. At the end of the 4-5 day period, we would have a Socratic Symposium on the topic to cement the concept in their heads (after all, I really believe that we learn quite a lot from an active conversation about a topic) and then a short written piece discussing what they've learned. After the first learning goal is complete, we move on to the next. Thus, I hope an active learning cycle becomes second-nature to these kids.

When these kiddos are faced with a problem in school or out of school, I want them to be able to access their skill set to assess the problem, find the resources to solve the problem, and work toward a solution. I want them to have learned tenacity, persistence and to believe in themselves so that when something does not work out, they ask themselves "What's should I do next?" instead of giving up altogether. These are the skills that make kids successful and will be increasingly so in the future. These are the skills that I want all of my kiddos to master in our last eight weeks of school. It's time for Active Learning Boot Camp!

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