Self-directed learning in a 1-1 environment

I am lucky enough to be in the situation where my class is 1-1 with Chromebooks. In saying this, I also believe that we are not too far away from having the opportunity to be 1-1 in every class in the future. The reason I say this is because:

1) Technology is getting cheaper and cheaper every day.

2) Teachers are becoming increasingly competent at using digital technologies in the classroom.

3) Teachers are discovering and sharing ways in which technology can enhance student learning.

My two colleagues and I that teach our 1-1 Yr 10 class have been experimenting with ways that we can use our Chromebooks to enhance the learning process. What we have found is that we can use the technology available to us to encourage self-directed learning, as well as allowing the learning to be individualised to the students needs.

Below I am going to explain how we have created an environment that enables the students to direct, and take ownership of, their own learning in maths.

Step 1: 

We create individual learning plans for each student. Click here for an earlier post where I explain the process we used to do this. See the example of one of our ILP’s  in the picture below.

Step 2:

We use Google Sites as a 'resource file', where we have collated a number of different resources for the students to use. In maths, for each area, I generally create a minimum of three links. The first link is usually a video explaining how to do the skill. Khan Academy is a great resource that I often use in these 'instructional links'. The second link is often interactive activities to practice the skill. The third link is usually a maths game to further master the skill, but in a gamified context. Below is the contents of my Algebra page, followed by a snippet of the sections with the links that students can choose to master the skill.

We also have links to a PDF copy of some maths booklets for those students that still prefer to work through some of the activities this way. Click here for a link to the Algebra section of our Google Site.

Step 3:

We use Blogger for our class blog. This is different to our Google Site as our class blog has general instructions of what we are doing, often with links to our Google Site (which has our learning resources). The picture below shows how I use my blog to write up what I want the students to do in each block.

The key here is that we have taught the process that we want the students to use to direct their own learning. As the instructions on the blog show, the students should:

1) Decide which focus they are working on (this should come from their individual foucus sheet). This is their heading in their books/or on their learning documents.

2) Choose which learning outcomes relate to their focus. We have provided learning outcomes from Level 3, 4 and 5 on our website. See a snippet below for a example.

3) The students then use the resources that we have provided to learn the skill. They have to show their learning either in their books or on a learning document (with the correct headings and subheadings).

Step 4: 

I encourage the students to have learning conversation 20 minutes before the end of the lesson. This way they help each other with their learning. I also encourage students to use Twitter to write what they have learnt from the lesson as an exit ticket. This way I can see what each student has been focusing on, and the students can see what other students are doing (which also help for the learning discussions). The earlier picure of the instructions on my blog show how I want the students to structure their conversations.

Step 5: 

While the students are directing their own learning, I offer 'workshops'. I write on my blog the time and the focus of these workshops, and students opt in if they want. This way I am only teaching the skill to the students that need to learn that particular skill, rather than the whole class. While I am not running any workshops, I have the opportunity to work with individuals in the class.

Step 6:

So that we can keep track of the learning that is happening, each week we create a Google form that they students are asked to do. I use the extension Flubaroo so that the quiz marks itself and sends the results straight back to the students email. On each question of the quiz, I add the learning focus and level at the end. This way, when the students check their results, they can clearly see what focuses they still need to work on. As a teacher, I am also able to use the data to see which students are struggling on certain skills. I also use the data to determine what workshops I should run (and therefore I can encourage certain students that have got the answers incorrect to attend the correspoding workshops).

The picture below shows one of my google forms, with the focus in brackets after each question

The next picture shows the data that the extension Flubaroo gives me within seconds of the students completing the quiz.

Final thoughts:

We have found that this process has worked great to enable us to personalise learning in our maths lessons. Students can work on the skills at their own individual level, rather than learn whatever it is that the teacher decides they are teaching on that day. The students also know that it is not about the amount of work that they write down, it is about whether or not they are learning new skills. As a teacher, I never say 'show me how much work you have done'. Rather, I ask the student what focus they have been learning, and then I will give them a problem and watch them do it. This sort of environment has meant that students help each other learn rather than try to copy each others work. We have also found that the majority of students are now engaged in their learning. I believe that this is because each student is working at their own level, and at their own pace. Students no longer have the feeling of getting lost, or left behind, and therefore remain engaged in the learning process.