Student Centered Classroom
Apr 3, 2010
How to create a Student-Centered Classroom by Miss Allison Thomas
My name is Allison Thomas. I teach 6th grade at Corning elementary school and my presentation is about how to create a student-centered classroom. The key concepts discussed in this presentation are the characteristics of a teacher-centered classroom, a student-centered classroom. The pros and cons of both how to transition to a student center classroom, how to promote net generation learning through a student-centered classroom, lessons I did to start the process and resources to provide more information. Teacher-centered classrooms have been the focus of schools for generations. Students come to school each morning to learn what the teacher has planned for the day.
The teacher has been a great amount of time preparing and planning the lessons of students will learn. The plan is to teach the required curriculum and the given months of the school year. The students will be taught the content expected to get it so that the teacher can move on to the next lesson. Students are receiving knowledge, but to what degree are they retaining it? Research has shown that a great deal of the knowledge that is being taught to them is not staying in their long-term memory. It is being memorized for the assessment, but the application piece is missing. In a typical teacher center classroom, the teacher is the center of focus, not the students.
Students are typically being taught total group instruction. The actual physical setup of a classroom promotes the teacher being in the front of the room. Many teacher center classrooms have desk and rose to the students can not talk. The room may be more lecture format for students to get the information being taught to them. Another key component of any classroom is the technology. How is technology being used in this type of classroom? Some may find it being used, but only by the teacher. Did the students have access to it at any time or only designated labs. These are important questions to ask when evaluating the type of classroom trying to be achieved.
A student center classroom is becoming more important in today's world to meet the individual needs of students. The focus in this type of classroom is not the teacher, but what the students know and can do. Individual needs are met through more small group instruction instead of teacher lecture format. The teacher works more as a guide to facilitate the learning taking place in the classroom. Students are engaged in their learning while working individually and cooperative teams or in pairs to tackle the task ahead. The learning is presented to them in an inquiry method with application relevant from the start. The pace of a student center classroom is set by the needs of the students depending on their level of understanding key concepts.
Students are receiving instruction in various ways. A new concept with little background knowledge may be presented total group to build common understanding. Once the initial lesson has been taught and guided practice has taken place, then the teacher can assess the student's level of understanding to this point. Along with whole-group instruction, a student-centered classroom will have small-group instruction. Small group instruction focuses on a skill, a group of students needs to work on for greater understanding. These students may need reteaching, more guided practice or even extension to the next level.
One-on-one teaching will also be a focus for any student who needs additional assistance. The key theme is meeting each student's needs. Additionally, the student center classroom looks physically different. The room becomes a community where students feel safe, comfortable, and relax to learn. Desk or tables are arranged to promote team discussions and the flexibility to work around the room is available to all students. Along with the physical setup, technology is another key component. The accessibility to computers is important in a student-centered classroom. The students need to be able to access the information on their own and take independent responsibility for gaining information. Choice is vital in a student-centered classroom.
Students can be given choice in a variety of ways. Menu choice of book projects, daily 5 routines for reading block, place this to sit around the room to work, how to take a test, paper, pencil, or centel clicker format. Choices and power students in their own classroom. There are many advantages in a student center classroom. The major theme throughout all of the advantages is meeting the individual needs of students. To begin with, knowledge is being retained by students longer. When students are allowed to apply their thinking to problem-solving, they are more likely to retain their skills and concepts in their long-term memory. As students work collaboratively discussing their learning, they are more engaged and in turn are becoming more independently responsible.
Teachers have been using the multisensory approach focusing on the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. In a student-centered classroom, these learning styles are important, but the application process by the students is a key component. There are several disadvantages to creating a student-centered classroom. The biggest con is change. Change is difficult for many people. Throughout the change process, teachers will go through various stages. As the implementation process begins with the student center classroom, teachers can fluctuate again through the stages of the change process.
Another con of creating a student-centered classroom is the time. The planning involved in meeting each student's need does take more time. Accountability and how to assess students understanding of knowledge and mastery of skills is essential to the success of a student-centered classroom. Teachers must be willing to monitor and adjust the assessment, collaborate with other teachers to critique the forms of assessment being used, and continue to evaluate students progress throughout each unit of learning. This all takes a great deal of time. The final con focuses on the students, in a student-centered classroom, some students may struggle with having more responsibility. In this type of environment, students need to be independent with their learning at various times.
Having this responsibility and independence is too much for some students in a classroom. Students still need to have his or her needs met so the teacher needs to go back to the drawing board and determine what is the best way for this child to learn. Again, this all takes time planning and collaboration. There are several steps in transitioning to a student-centered classroom. To start with, the question is the switch to this philosophy, a classroom building or district goal. This question is important because teachers need to know the support system and or professional development that may be provided for them throughout this change process. Support and collaboration are a key to the success of teachers transitioning from a teacher center to a student-centered classroom.
How do teachers begin to move to a student center classroom? The first step is planning and looking at the standards for the year. By creating a map of the year, curriculum teachers can look at the big picture of concepts that need to be focused on. Less in planning and is the next step for the process of creating a student-centered classroom. Lesson plans need to be specific, describing if the focus of instruction is going to be whole group, small group, or one on one. It's important to take small steps during this process, and try not to make too many changes at once. One of the key factors in making this type of transition is creating independence for all students to be successful. Students must know the expectations and what they are being held accountable for completing.
Modeling and practicing are vital to create the student-centered environment. As teachers transition to student-centered instructional strategies, they have to recognize and accept their new roles and responsibilities as a facilitator. A teacher's dominant responsibility for and control of learning is reduced in a student-centered classroom. Michael grant states in the article, finding your place in a student-centered classroom as a teacher Facilitator. Planning modeling and knowing how to create this type of classroom will be more successful during staff development. Teachers can work in professional learning communities to plan and collaborate, how this transition can look in each classroom.
Professional learning communities, PLCs, are designed to look at how the students needs are being met. What teachers need to do different and the types of formal assessment taking place to show how the students are receiving and understanding their learning. During PLC time, teachers evaluate student performance and analyze data to look at individual needs. The last step to transitioning to a student with center classroom is the actual physical setup of the classroom. Michael grant describes the difference in his classroom in his article finding your place in a student-centered classroom. He states a teacher also has to achieve comfort and his new students in her classroom learning environment. The activity noise and physical dislocation can be unsettling and chaotic to some teachers.
As students collaborate and share resources, moving in and out of peer groups, the classroom can easily become a messy place where desk and benches are pushed together. The students must feel that the classroom is a place of learning created by all. If the teacher is the center of the learning, then the students fill the teacher is the only source of knowledge. When the room is arranged so that everyone is part of the teaching and learning process, then it becomes more student-centered. Flexibility can also happen with greater ease if the classroom is set up so that the students have a choice to sit in various places to read or work independently. Students must feel empowered and part of their own learning process. Giving them a choice in allowing them to be part of the decision-making process and their classroom will create students that are independently responsible.
Patricia Laban Candace Lacey discussed the learning styles in their article, teaching the net generation. They stay understanding their unique learning needs is the first strategy useful for teaching that generation students. They are visual and kinesthetic learners. They love to see and do. They are able to attend to auditory information present in a short burst. But because they are not strong auditory learners, they lose attention during lengthy oral presentations.
Next-generation students work well in small collaborative groups as they are social by nature. When working independently, they are productive when there is a support structure in place. Additionally, the use of technology is essential with these learners, as they see technology as part of how they do things. A teacher who provides a structured learning environment employs a variety of learning strategies and provides a variety of learning tasks, promotes learning for the next generation student. This explanation of net generation learning ties into a student center classroom, net generation students once a small group instruction, the technology that their fingertips and to learn by doing, not listening. Technology is a key piece. So districts need to make this a priority in their planning a budget and staff development. Teachers need to be given the opportunities to learn about integrating the technology, building background, and implementing project based learning, all of these strategies promote a positive student centered learning environment.
There are several learning strategies that can be implemented into the classroom. In the book the daily 5, the authors teach how to implement a reading program geared to creating independent reading students. The program is set up with the focus more at the elementary level. During the daily 5 retained students are working on their goals independently, and then meeting with the teacher for small group instruction. The students are engaged in their learning and feel empowered with the choices they can make during their daily 5 times. This philosophy is student-centered and a good place for teachers to start transitioning from a teacher-centered classroom. Project-based learning is another approach teachers can begin to use. To begin with, start with a small unit create a goal for the students to have a final product resulting through collaboration, inquiry, research, and presentation.
Project-based learning does not have to happen all day in all subjects. Start small and build the comfort level, expectations, and guidance for both teachers and students. Another lesson I did as many choices for projects. In a traditional classroom students create the same type of project that the end of a unit. Students have various learning styles and multiple intelligence, visual spatial might be an intelligent for one student while musical might be the focus of another. When giving students choices in the product of a project, they can select one that fits their area of intelligence and interest. The end result is a display of knowledge that was chosen by the students. They feel empowered with their learning and produce higher level of results.
Clearly, a student-centered classroom has characteristics in advantages to produce lifelong self-motivated learners. This type of classroom promotes the 21st-century skills. The following are a list of resources that provide more information on student-centered classrooms.