Friday, February 20, 2015

12 Ways to Empower Student-Driven Learning

As a teenager, I hated driver's ed. Hated it... There was nothing more frustrating than sitting in that dorky car with the badge of shame on the car door that read "STUDENT DRIVER".  Every day I went to driver's ed with two thoughts. "How many more days until I can stop driving around town with this loser label on me, and how can I get rid of this teacher monitoring my driving?"  The day finally came when I was able to shed my scarlet letter of mobility as well as the driving instructor from my car.  I was finally able to drive all by myself.

So who's driving your students' learning in your classroom?


Kids disconnect from instruction that puts them in the passenger's seat. Quick-paced learners become annoyed when they have to wait for slower students. Slower-paced learners shut down when they aren't moving fast enough to keep up with the class. To truly own learning, students must be in the driver's seat. They need to have tasks and activities that engage them at their level and in their modality.   If you think about it, learning is a personal activity just like driving is. In order for kids to own their learning, the teacher can't be the one always driving them around town.  

Image by wealthydebates.com

Here are 12 Ways to Empower Student-Driven Learning


  1. Empower kids to find more than one way to solve a problem. 
  2. Build in collaboration time among students, so they can share their thinking with one another. 
  3. Create a mindset where wrong answers are great teaching tools, not horrible mistakes. 
  4. Provide activities that don't penalize slow-paced learners for not finishing quickly. 
  5. Have ongoing extension activities where faster-paced students can work on a personalized project tied to their interests. 
  6. Lecture only when it is information that the majority of the class must hear. 
  7. Intentionally integrate student discussion and conversation into instructional activities. 
  8. Encourage students to use technology to learn more about your content in a way that fits their learning style . 
  9. Provide students opportunities to preview new content before you teach it. (Flipped instruction)
  10. Limit the amount of time that students have to sit and wait.  The longer they wait, the more disconnected they will become. 
  11. Select activities that cognitively engage minds, not keep them busy.
  12. Provide activities tied to the student's interests. If they aren't interested, they won't own it. 
Please add your thoughts in the comment section.

Let Kids Take their Learning for a Spin

Driving for the first time was the most liberating experience for almost everyone of us.  Being in control as I sped down the road for the first time was awesome because finally being in the driver's seat was the best feeling in the world.  Learning is no different.  When kids have choice and control in determining their own personal pathway to learning, students will surpass engagement and be empowered to drive their learning.



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