Social Studies - We've settled on a format for our student-driven learning environment. I introduce the learning topic, kids get a few days to research the content using our resource page, we come together for a Socratic Symposium on the content and then kids write a short summary paper on their learning about the content. The resource page that we've constructed includes videos, digital resources and games. There are also many print resources in class for kids to use (and many do). Using this class format, each kiddo can learn at their own pace, in their own way and using their preferred resources.
My role as teacher changes from the Conveyor of Content to Roaming Reinforcer. I get to conference with each student and help them individually make sense of the material. They have questions and while I don't always have answers, I do know where to point them to find those answers. They are beginning to see me not as someone who will give them information but as someone who can show them where to go to learn. Soon, they will have gained the skills necessary to figure out where those resources are themselves.
To me, this is what it is all about - creating self-sufficient, persistent, lifelong learners. If we can cultivate these qualities in class, we will have gone a long way toward teaching them essential skills for the future. I don't want kids saying, "I can't find the answer." I want them to say, "I had a tough time finding the answer but I finally got it." The bottom line is that we must prepare kids for a time when there will no longer be a teacher standing next to them ready to assist them in their learning endeavors. When they fully embrace this message of leading their own learning, they will have learned the most important lesson of the year.