Can you smell the fresh cherry blossoms? 🌸 Spring is finally here, and I imagine you are either on, or a few days away from a well deserved Spring Break.

Spring is a time for renewal, reflection, and re-imagining. How might you re-imagine a more student-centered classroom when you return for the final stretch of the year?

One of the best ways to empower learners is give them ownership over learning design. (Shift #1 pictured above)

That DOESN’T mean we have to codesign an entire unit, project, or extended learning experience with learners from scratch. Most of us don’t have that kind of flexibility or time.

What it DOES mean is that we include their voice/choice in how they complete activities, keep track of their progress, present their learning, and work. Here are 5 dead easy hacks you can introduce the day you return from Spring Break to include them:

  1. CoDesign Assessment Criteria: When introducing a new task, project, unit, topic, or open-ended question, work with students to codesign the expectations. Create a rubric together based on ‘exemplary’ work in kid-friendly language. You can cut up ‘standards’ in small strips and have student re-word them related to the assignment you introduce. (ie. Documentary Film; Organization, Content, Informative Speaking, etc.)
  2. CoDesign ‘Choice Boards’: After working through content, give students choice in how they demonstrate their understanding through ‘choice boards.’ After teaching genetics, I saw a biology teacher develop a 3×3 board that included choices of comic strips, narrated videos, flash animation games, and more. Students were far more engaged in the content knowing that they had choice in how they shared their learning.
  3. CoDesign through a Short Google Form: Prior to introducing a unit of study, send a google form that asks students to identify which areas are of most interest. Include checkboxes for sub-topics, open ended boxes for questions they have, and ratings for their current level of knowledge. This will help you organize the learning around their interest.
  4. CoDesign with a Small Committee as Co-Teachers: We always have learners with a special interest in our subject, certain topics, or relevant skills. How to best utlize them? Have them act as co-teachers! They can help lead small teams. Introduce new ideas/concepts. Develop/deliver short activities for learning stations. Act as peer tutors. Teach concepts in small groups to struggling learners. By empowering this committee, you will create a classroom where students feel valued.
  5. CoDesign Big Questions: When introducing a new topic/unit/project or challenge, use a short activity or film clip to invite learner questions. What intrigues them? Collect these questions via stickies, then lay out in a gallery walk around the room. Have students gather next to questions that most resonate. In teams, allow them to explore answers to these questions and/or connect the questions to specific material you will teach.

Remember, every journey to student-centered environments starts with a SINGLE step. Pick the lowest hanging fruit. Which of the above is easiest to grab/implement in your context?

The 12 Shifts Book: ‘Where is the Teacher’ is available for Pre-Order!!!!

The codesign shift listed above is only 1 of 12 key shifts to help you move from a teacher-led to student-centered environment. For the last four years I have worked tirelessly to collect stories, strategies, ideas, and inspiration from student-centered environments and edu-transformers just like you to amplify each shift. And I have finally have them organized in one life changing (I hope) book. 🙂

‘Where is the Teacher: The 12 Shifts for Student-Centered Environments’ is avialable for pre-order!! 🎉🥳🎊

Launch date is August, but you can pre-order your copy here: ‘Where is the Teacher?’

Enjoy the budding Spring flowers 🌸 and well- deserved Spring break.