Grade 4 – Self directed study
As the Grade 4 year begins to ebb closer to summer this means Grade 5 is looming… I begin to introduce skill sets that will prepare or at least give insight into what Grade 5 could look like. Self-directed study is one of those areas. I deliberately choose a topic that has high student engagement and a topic that they all have studied before (setting them up for success by building upon prior knowledge).
A study from Waterloo University states “Learning independently can be challenging, even for the brightest and most motivated students” and for the years in which I have completed Self-directed study units, I see this every single time. Despite this, I have never had one student give up. What I do see is an increase in student collaboration, thought partners to problem solve, and a quiet buzz (this year not so quiet!) of curiosity. It is a point in the year when I sit back and observe the students and how far they have come. This is not a task that one simply ‘does on a random day that nothing is planned’, there is a build-up of trust between students and teachers. In fact, the lessons that look like they have the least amount of structure, have the most amount of background structure (See John Spencer’s – awesome ‘out of the box’ educator’) .
The self-directed study needs four key stages:
-being ready to learn,
-setting learning goals,
-engaging in the learning process,
As per my personal growth project this year, I have been working on (re) introducing Language Arts into Makerspace and building assessment tools that include 21st-century skill development and evaluation. Here is one of the tools that I am currently using, it is taken from the Bank of Resources at the University of Waterloo.
Let me show you the start of how we are moving through this exciting unit this term. Here are the first two stages as planned by a Grade 4 Student – Being Ready to learn and Setting Learning Goals:
Engaging in the Learning Process:
Students completed research and extended their learning beyond the classroom by bringing their own rock collections:
Students working on their projects:
Here we are taking our learning outdoors:
The final stage is evaluating learning so check out the individual student blogs to see what we produce… Students will produce their own assessment tool. Here is a John Spencer thought video about students owning their own assessments.