My goal for my students and my own children is to help them grow into self-directed and self-motivated, life-long learners. I often ask myself the question, "Would my students or my children know what to do if I or a teacher wasn't there to show them?" I want the answer to that question to be a resounding "YES!"
In order to achieve that goal, I think we need to deliberately design our curriculum and our "instruction" in ways that provide students with opportunities to learn and practice these skills. That not only requires a shift in thinking for our students, but also for us as educators.
I ran across an article by Gerry Sexton that really made me think about the qualities of self-directed learners and what I can do as an educator and coach to help students and teachers address these qualities. He identifies six characteristics, or "invisible assets" that define people who successfully take responsibility for their own learning:
1. Self-directed learners work with an underlying sense of purpose.
What can we do to grow students into self-directed learners?
We can lead students to discover within themselves these assets by asking them questions related to each of Sexton's characteristics prior to learning:
We can give voice and choice in learning.
Do all students have to always student the same topic in the same way and present information in the same way? This is the easiest way to differentiate for students' interests and skills. Allow students to bring ideas to the classroom instead of being directed from above.
We can change the way we instruct to give students authentic reading and writing opportunities...writing blogs for real audiences, finding and reading articles related to current trends.
Allow students to use technologies they will use in "real-life." Social media, web 2.0 tools, and smart phones are used outside of our school buildings every day. Why not allow students to see that they are great tools for learning?
These are just a few ideas of many. Every step we take to provide opportunities for our kids to become self-directed, aka "life-long learners" is a step in the right direction, no matter how big or how small.
Yes, you've heard all the lingo...the tweets, retweets, tweetdecks, hashtags, follows, followers, bit.lys, tinyurls, Twitter twits, etc. Does all of this twerminology have you befuddled? Are you a Twitter-lover or a Twitter-hater?
Here is a VERY brief overview of some Twitter jargon, and then I'll move on to the good stuff, so if you are already a tweeter, please don't stop here. Here's my little glossary of twerms:
I have listed a few ways you can take advantage of Twitter as a professional and even as a classroom tool. You might want to have one Twitter account for student/class related information and another for professional networking:
Use Twitter for professional networking to:
Use Twitter as a classroom tool to:
I used to think of Twitter as "another thing to do," but within the last year, I have found that it saves me time versus wasting it. I find important trends in education listed out for me with very little searching, and quite frequently I am directed to a new idea or opinion I hadn't considered. Like anything though, it's all in how it is managed. With any social network, it's important to be careful of who you follow and to regulate your time. If you find that someone you follow is posting garbage that takes your attention and time away from more important posts, don't be afraid to "unfollow" that person.
Please use the comment section below to expand your professional learning network! Let the BPS 101 community know how you are currently using Twitter or how you plan to in the future! Oh, and if you like this post...feel free to tweet it out to your followers by clicking on the Twitter button below. Happy tweeting!
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