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Imagine walking into a class where all students…
- Are motivated to know what they are learning, how they are learning it, how well they are learning, and their role as learners,
- Are motivated to share their learning with others,
- Determine and follow the steps needed to elevate their own academic achievement, and
- Take ownership of their own learning.
Wouldn’t you love to teach that class?
As educators, we know that student motivation is the key to greater academic success. We at Elevated Achievement believe that motivation can be taught. We have seen first-hand how teachers are able to increase student motivation and achievement by increasing student ownership.
We believe that student ownership is almost impossible to develop without teachers. We know how crucial teachers are in ensuring that students recognize their role in learning by taking ownership. That’s why we are sharing the learning framework, the strategic learning practices, and examples of how educators are teaching motivation, developing student ownership, and creating a culture of elevated achievement.
The Learning Framework
So, how do we as educators go about increasing student ownership? We do it by implementing the strategic learning practices across the four broad areas of an integrated learning framework, which consists of:
- Curriculum—what students are learning,
- Instruction—how they are learning it,
- Assessment—how well they are learning it, and
- Climate—the kind of academic environment where students know their role is to learn.
When we say that the framework is integrated, it’s because none of the strategic learning practices within it can stand alone. Each practice impacts the others in numerous ways across the entire framework. It is only by supporting students across all areas that we can achieve the kind of classroom described above.
By integrating strategic learning practices across all four areas of the learning framework, teachers have the power to greatly increase student ownership. And when student ownership increases, the results that follow are greater learning, improved motivation, and a culture of elevated student achievement.
Putting It All Together
Let’s take a look at how one teacher integrates strategic learning practices across the learning framework.
“When my students walk in the classroom, the objective is always listed on the board. The objective includes the skill being learned (what) and the success criteria (how and demonstrate). I go over the objective and then have my students discuss it with A-B partners. Partner A shares what they are going to learn, and Partner B shares how they will demonstrate the learning. I call on random students to make sure we are all clear about today’s learning. This takes about two minutes.
“But I need them to take a stronger role in understanding the learning for today—I need them to take ownership. I then ask two questions. The first is: ‘How many of you can demonstrate the learning right now?’ One or two hands might go up. The second is: ‘How many of you feel confident that you will be able to demonstrate the learning by the end of the lesson?’ Normally all hands go up. This gets them into the mindset that they have a role in the learning, and I find that they are more willing to take risks.”
What is this teacher doing to integrate strategic learning practices across all four areas of the learning framework?
- Curriculum—In the first five minutes of class, this teacher supports students by offering a measurable and achievable outcome that is accessible and which drives all learning.
- Instruction—The students then have opportunities for meaningful engagement using structured student-to-student communication.
- Assessment—Students both receive and provide feedback.
- Climate—Students are supported by an academic classroom climate that is respectful, cooperative, and encourages risk taking by having them share their readiness to learn.
These strategic learning practices are not difficult to incorporate into our daily routines. You may be doing some of them in your classroom already. Each one is powerful in itself, but the real power lies in the integration of these practices across all four areas of the learning framework.
Real Teachers, Real Impact
What differences have teachers noticed in their classrooms once they start integrating strategic learning practices across the learning framework? One teacher explains:
“As I began to implement the practice of ensuring all my students had a clear understanding of the learning outcome, I noted two significant changes. The first is that the students were more focused and attentive. I attribute this to the fact that they all understood the purpose of the lesson and the expectation of the learning. The second is that the classroom environment changed from ‘I’ and ‘you’ to a ‘we.’ We were in this together. With the learning outcome being so clear, the class began to work more as a unit toward the success criteria.”
In other words, by integrating these key practices, the teacher started to create a positive academic climate that supported learning and achievement.
Here’s what another teacher had to say:
“When I began to work with the strategic learning practices, I began to reflect on the student engagement role in learning. I quickly realized I was doing all the work. I would read the content on the topic we were getting ready to learn. I would synthesize the information to determine the most pertinent content. I would cull the information down to its most salient points. I would then share the content with the students, and they would take notes. I realized I was doing all the work and, possibly, all the learning. I took a closer look at the verbs in the standards to find out what my students needed to do in order to demonstrate learning. I could not find ‘copy the teacher’s learning from the PowerPoint presentation’ as a standard. I saw that they needed to learn to analyze and evaluate information. I decided I needed to release more of the learning to my students.”
‘I was doing all the work’—sound familiar? It’s a rare teacher who hasn’t felt this way at some point. By reflecting on his everyday practices and thinking about the decisions teachers make in each area of the learning framework, this teacher was able to stop doing all the work and delegate more of the authority, capacity, and responsibility for learning to the students, thus helping them develop an ownership mindset.
Another teacher summed it up:
“My work with the strategic learning practices has completely changed my thinking. I used to think about what I was going to teach tomorrow. Now, I think about what my students need to learn tomorrow. My job is no longer about getting through the lesson. It is about getting through to the learners.”
It is clear that these teachers work hard. We all work hard. We come to school each day motivated to provide students with the highest-quality learning we can. But achievement can’t be increased if only the teachers are motivated. We as teachers need to ensure that the students are motivated to be active participants in their own learning.
We can do this by making sure that our classroom practices provide students with the support they need—across all four areas of the learning framework—to take ownership of their learning. By empowering students with an ownership mindset, we create a culture of achievement in which all students are motivated to learn and achieve to their full potential.
The Learning Brief
In this article you learned…
- Teachers can increase student motivation and achievement by increasing student ownership.
- Teachers can develop student ownership by integrating strategic learning practices across all four areas of the learning framework—Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, Climate.
- When implemented together, these strategic learning practices can make a significant impact on student ownership, learning, and achievement.
Can you imagine building an environment full of motivated, engaged, and eager students who own their learning?