Welcome back for chapter 8 of Learn Like a Pirate. This week's topic: Empowerment.
We've been discussing for several weeks now about creating a classroom environment in which students are expected to lead. (If you're new to all this, start here.) But how do we make that happen? We empower them to do so.
Solarz begins the school year by embedding student leadership and responsibilities in everything he does. "Let them know you expect them to take charge of these tasks." We've talked at length about how students can lead rituals and get the class's attention. Now lets turn our focus to taking charge of their learning.
Getting Passionate about Learning
Solarz uses Passion Time in his class for students to conduct self-directed research and projects. Topics must be approved by him and must be PHAT (Pretty Hard and Tough) questions. Solarz spends much time at the beginning of the year guiding students in developing PHAT questions, but as the school year progresses, students become much more adept at creating their own.
He generally provides students 45 minutes to an hour twice a week to devote to their Passion Time projects. Students may work alone or with a partner on their projects but may only work with the each partner once a year. When students realize you care about them and their interests, it "heightens their motivation to produce excellent work" while "practicing the skills they need to be successful outside of school—researching, writing, planning, collaborating, revising, etc.—and enjoying the process.!"
Of course there are steps to Passion Time:
- PHAT questions—approved by the teacher
- Discover and Blog about it
- Wrap it up and share
- Peer feedback
Blogging about it would be a CHALLENGE in kindergarten, but student created books that are shared among the class could serve a similar purpose. They would still be able to create projects to represent their learning and share them among their peers, but on a more age-appropriate level.
Other ways to create a passion for learning: Student created videos, time during or after school to create things of the child's choosing, and creating a safe environment that focuses on improvement and where making mistakes is okay.
How do you empower your students?
Stop by the Primary Gal and see what other bloggers have to say about Empowerment.