Building Student Ownership

Last year in the grade one classroom I tried to incorporate child-directed learning frequently throughout the school day. I used literacy centres and open-ended learning activities for math and science. And while these parts of the day approached something that was child-directed, I still found myself doing most of the work and making most of the decisions. I determined which centres were available, and which students were in each group. I led the activities, which were wrapped up in intricate lessons – themselves linked to curricular outcomes. In short, I was unsatisfied with the level of student ownership of learning.

This year, I am addressing the issue of student ownership (through child-directed learning) in two ways:

  1. Structuring the school day with more opportunities for student choice
  2. Implementing student choice activities that are engaging, purposeful and authentic

A colleague suggested I look at Jessica Meacham’s website for her ideas on Writer’s Workshop. Doing this, I noticed her daily schedule – and decided to incorporate some of her ideas into my own classroom schedule. In particular, I love the idea of having brief (5-10 minutes) focus lessons before longer periods of child-directed work periods. The focus lessons draw the group’s attention to strategies and ideas that will help them to move forward with their reading, writing and numeracy skills. Our school days have started to look like this:

Morning Meeting

Reader’s Workshop

Focus Lesson (5-10 m)

Daily 5 Session #1 (20 m)

Focus Lesson (5-10 m)

Daily 5 Session #2 (20 m)

Writer’s Workshop

Mini Lesson (5-10 m)

Writing (20 m)

Sharing (5 m)

Social Studies

Recess

Lunch

Quiet Time

Physical Education

Mathematics

Math Journals (10 m)

Focus Lesson (5 m)

Guided Practice (10 m)

Independent Practice (10 m)

Math Centres (30 m)

Science

Closing Meeting

(Art, Music, Health and Technology classes are included on certain days.)

Thoughts? What is your daily routine in your classroom?

Stay tuned for how I’m planning to make the student choice times (Daily 5, writing, math centres) more engaging, purposeful and authentic.

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