Let Go and Let Them Learn

7 Aug

The article entitled Figuring it Out can be found at: http://figuringitouted.blogspot.com/2011/06/giving-up-control.html.  This blog post was written by J. Bevacqua who is a father, teacher, and school principal. 

 Summary:

In this article the author (who is a teaching high school principal) describes an experiment that he tried with his Law 12 class.  The experiment was an exit assignment called “I want to know more about. . . “

The students were required to choose a topic or question that they wanted to research and then present to the rest of the class.  The teacher did not provide approved topics or even many project requirements for his students.  The students were given complete choice for their assignment as well as the method they could use to present it.   The class did work together to brainstorm a list of controversial current events as well as encouragement to think deeply.  The author-teacher decided not to discuss grades or rubrics, but instead focused the students on answering their questions.  The results were incredible!  Students chose interesting topics, consulted multiple sources, and used media to present their findings.  The class as a whole was motivated to do their best and found the project to be a gratifying experience.  The teacher found that the power of choice (and not the grade) was extremely motivating for students.  He also learned that relinquishing control as the teacher was a freeing experience and plans to do it more. 

 New concept/interesting idea:

I think the concept of problem-based inquiry is fabulous.  Instead of the traditional method of answering questions, students are called upon to ask and answer their own.  This calls for higher level thinking and real-life application.  I thought the complete choice approach was genius.  It just makes sense that students would be intrinsically motivated to complete an assignment that they got to choose instead of being assigned to one.  The emphasis on the process of asking questions instead of grades and rubrics was very refreshing for me as a teacher. 

 My response:

I really loved this article!  I tend to be a control freak by nature.  This is fueled by my A-type personality and love of order.  As a new teacher, I am finding that it is ok to give up control and allow my students to explore.  This article really enforced this for me.  My second graders may need more guidance than the high school students who participated in this project, but I think the use of menus, or group work would be perfect for my young class.  I’m looking forward to a new school year, mew students, and the ability to let go and let my students learn through choice and self-motivation!

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