How I Put Students in Charge of Their Learning

Elyse Mermelstein

by | 10.15.19

Elyse Mermelstein is an educator in Florida.

I want my kids to know how they’re growing, so I make sure they understand their own learning data. When it’s time to work on a learning task such as literacy, instead of directing the kids, I have them pick an activity from our ‘daily five’ centers. Each kid can read on their own, read to someone else, listen to someone else read, write or work on vocabulary. A kid can say, ‘I’m working on a really cool essay, so I’m picking the writing center,’ or ‘I love this book I’m reading, so I want to stay in my own world and choose the reading center.’ At the end of that unstructured time, they’re very proud to show off what they’re working on, and they know how many ‘dojo points’ they’ve earned (I use a free app called ClassDojo to put positive behavior supports in place).
As I go around to each center, I am meticulous about noting where each child is and where they’re going, and I discuss it with them. Because we’re recording their progress together, I know in detail where each of them is in their learning and where they’re heading, and so do they. Nothing is hidden from them. Kids love being independent, they love having control over their learning, and as a result they really do grow and improve.

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