Students provide content for learning through bringing in articles or videos, collaborating on a class slideshow that covers multiple topics, or creating discussion questions.
STUDENT CHOICE AND VOICE
One way of tapping into students' knowledge and encouraging them to take charge of their own learning is through having students bring in the texts for study. With a general outline of the kinds of texts to explore and the kind of information to bring in, students together can often teach more than the teacher ever could alone.
I tried this with our foray into mythology, attempting to uncover the role of these stories in “our story” as humans. While I have a fairly good understanding of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology (thanks primarily to Rick Riordan’s young adult book series), there are numerous other pantheons in existence that might be of more interest to students. Students were given a starting point for research (the website www.godchecker.com) and general guidelines for the kind of information to explore, and then each created a slide a god or goddess that they found interesting.
Was that activity overall beneficial in helping students explore how myths help to tell “our story”? Here are some of their takeaways:
"Some deities were a solution to people's suffering, like another way to cope with the conditions of your life.""There wasn't much science in the past, so they used myth to explain unexplainable things. For example, every time the volcano errupted or rumbled, people said that the blacksmith god was creating something.""Sometimes knowing someone's gods might teach you something about their culture and what they believe.""Gods and goddesses make up our story because they are the reason we act a certain way due to what we believe they expect us to act and do."
Socratic Seminars are also an excellent way to showcase student-selected articles. In small groups, students determine what they want to research, go out and find articles, and then narrow their findings to share with the rest of the class. The topic may be based on the curricular needs of the class, but the articles for discussion are student-selected.
- 7 Criteria for the Selection of Subject-Matter or Content of the Curriculum by Dr. Mary Alvior
- Student-Centered Learning: It Starts With the Teacher by John McCarthy, Edutopia
- Flipping the Classroom from the University of Washington Center for Teaching and Learning