taking the first step to increase student agency
Curriculum Mapping - with the use of a Learning Management System - is one place to start.
We must be clear about what we want our learners to know and be able to do. This is simply good curriculum and curriculum mapping. I learned this years ago from Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs (Read more here: http://www.curriculum21.com.)
There is a 13-year progression (Kindergarten through 12th Grade) that our learners experience as they move through our system. How do we house the curricula (K-12) in a place that is easily accessible to our learners and their parents? How can we make it crystal clear what our learners must know and be able to do to master the material in a unit?
A curriculum map offers this information, and a learning management system helps effectively communicate it to everyone on the learner's team.
We must give parents access to information they can use to engage with their children about their school work - and the ability to see their child's successes and opportunities for growth. Curriculum mapping and a learning management system also put an end to a child telling his parent, “I did nothing in school today” or “I have no homework.”
Let's face it -- it has never been easy to be a parent. But, today's schools can leverage technology to make parenting a school-aged, digital learner easier. If there is a list of standards or some common core version in your state, why is it such a secret to our students, and even harder for our parents to access? If we have the technology, and a learning management system, why can't parents know more detailed information about how their children are doing in school on any given day, with any given unit?
If we are working on a unit in physics on velocity vectors, we can use a map that shares the standards, what our learners must know and be able to do, and a final project to calculate the distance that you would drift downstream while swimming across a river that is flowing four meters per second. The map can also include information to assist the learner, such as additional reading resources or videos that explain or demonstrate the concept.
What if we allowed (really encouraged) a learner to think of another way to demonstrate velocity vectors? They would need to present their idea to the teacher for approval, then begin. We might be amazed at what they can do, given enough leeway to self-organize their learning!
The first step toward increasing student agency falls squarely on the big people in the organization. Curriculum mapping and a learning management system are an important start, but there is much work to be done in other areas of our system! We invite you to share your thoughts with us on today's blog, or any topic related to customizing education for our learners. How do you think we can give students more voice and choice in their education? Or parents more access to information needed to support their children in school?