What are the benefits of a student-centered approach to working with today's students?




Now that we have some of our ideas and definitions out there and what it looks like in your classroom lets think about our students. As the landscape of education seems to be moving at a fast pace our students may be moving even faster. As we think about student centered instruction this may be even more important for TODAY’s students. Would it have been any different 5, 10 or even 15 years ago? What are the benefits we realize with TODAY’s students and student-centered instruction.

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I think that students now are so used to getting bite sized information, and each student has such a different amount that student centered allows us to deliver material the way they are used to ingesting it, and to free up our time to converse and observe everyone to truly see what they know and what they can do.



No longer are teachers the ‘vessels’ of knowledge, students can now easily access information quickly and easily in the palm of their hands. I feel a teacher’s job is even more important now than ever before because we can now personalize learning for students, help them to be creative and critical with the information they receive, and we can concentrate more on the learning process. Social media is also an element not seen in the past. Student centered learning can help harness this into digital citizenship and digital leadership. Today’s students are awesome and come with their own learning styles and challenges. A student- centered approach is extremely beneficial to differentiating instruction and assessment to help meet the needs of each student and give them ownership of their education.


This is such a great point! To add on to @d.vendramin , I think that the way students are actively searching for content is changing too. We can take a student-centered approach and teach them how to effectively find it across different platforms/mediums, make meaningful connections, and find value in it. I think that @michael.lutz 's idea of an internet search formative and @mgarcia formative are really great examples of taking this approach:

The benefit is that students will learn more not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. It’s a digital world and we can help them learn how to navigate it.


Employers today want someone who can ‘think’ and not just follow directions. Employees have to be able to communicate with one another as well as alone. I think a student-centered approach will give more meaning to the learning from the student’s standpoint, while allowing the teacher to facilitate meaningful discussions with and between the students. Students learn more about themselves, their strengths and their weaknesses. Of course, everyone’s attention span is short these day, adults included. SCI allows for chunking of learning, which helps the students take ‘smaller bites’ but it also allows the teacher to catch misconceptions earlier.


Teachers are now facilitators. My aunt was a great quilt maker in her time, but what was really cool, was to see a group of women collectively coming together to create such an inspiring work. Ladies would bring pieces of different patterned cloth and by the end of the county fair day, made something that we would consider a family heirloom today.

Student centered learning is now the expectation. It brings a wealth of feedback and at times, even I struggle with an unexpected question that throws me off my track (all good, but sometimes I have to take the median, to prevent alienating a particular group) Example: politics or the ongoing immigration issue.

So here is an example of how I launch, introduce students centered expectations in my class. At the beginning of the year (which is a week away), I bring the quilt that she made for me when I was a youngster. I discuss the importance and value of a student centered-team approach to learning. Using a Pear Deck slide presentation, I show how she made the quilt and how her efforts brought about not only learning, but success.
I ask students how they will apply what they learned about the quilting toward their future success. The questions are open ended and we then share those thoughts as an exit ticket.

We then bind this learning the next day (after a flipped assignment at home) by having students reflect their knowledge on how Texas geography and regions affect the way Texans live. The students are introduced through a Formative about Texas regions and sub-regions that focused on culture, major land forms and geography, climate, etc. They use a choice board to extend their learning by creating something from their experiences during the week, the students vote which are the best from each class and we work with outside agency to print them as tourism handouts. I know this last part sounds a little challenging to work with an outside agency, but the kids are connected and motivated (great way to build a portfolio and is follows BIE project based learning guidelines).


One of the biggest benefits of a student-centered approach is being able to see what is important to the students. For example when I started letting my students choose the current events articles that we use weekly in Newsela I was able to see where their interest lies. The added benefit was the increased student engagement. Another benefit of a student-centered approach is that it gives the students the ability to show what they know using the skills that they are comfortable with. I would not know that some of my students are amazing artists, musicians, etc. if they had not used those skills to demonstrate learning targets that I had asked them to master.


I love the quilt analogy and how you use both Peardeck and Formative to help your students to take more ownership over learning!


I was just talking to Journalism educator Starr Sackstein about the importance of letting students decide what they read and write about it! I am glad you are doing this and opening doors for them to make true connections with learning!


Totally agree, Dean. I feel that I would have retained more knowledge in today’s strategies for learning if I would have been taught this way. I was good at going through the motions and being compliant, but had little knowledge to apply after all that learning! :slight_smile:


I believe that we need to address students who are at different stages of learning and that student-centered learning is important. Giving students choice, as in a choice board, is also great. I am not quite sure how to go about all of this, though, without losing my place in curriculum and making sure that students master curriculum goals.
In the past I have created playlists, but everyone was doing all of the activities, albeit at their own pace. The advantages of play lists were that students did not have to wait around for each other and that they could watch a tutorial over if they did not understand a particular topic. So, this is somewhat student centered, but I don’t think I am where I want to be with it yet.
I am thinking of creating learning paths, maybe with Symbaloo’s Learning Paths
(https://learningpaths.symbaloo.com), where students can choose their path to reach a certain objective. In World Languages we could use the Can-do statements (https://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/ncssfl-actfl-can-do-statements)for the goals, and create learning paths around those, for instance.
Still lots to learn and think about, but thanks to everybody for some great insights!:slight_smile:


I love the idea of using Symbaloo Learning Paths. I also like the idea of using badges for this that you mentioned over here. Here’s an awesome post by @mgarcia on how she got started with gamifying: http://www.teachingabovethetest.com/2013/11/gamification-starting-really-small.html


For me - last year was the first year I had students write grants. I had two 8th graders who got a combined $1500.00 for two projects. This year my goal is to have even more. The first day of school I asked students who wanted to write a grant this year and lots of hands went up. I feel that grant writing for an 8th grader did not exist in the past. The internet has opened the opportunity to link up with grants across the U.S. I feel like grant writing is the epitome of student centered and student voice. For me - it’s freakin’ awesome and the mountain top of pride that my students are developing the capacity and empathy to change the world.


Are you familiar with BookSnaps? I think this is a great way for students to share ideas, reflections, projects, etc. It takes something many are hooked on “Snapchat” and lets them express, create and post.


I am always thinking about if my students have the capacity and integrity to be hired and if I would give them a reference. The “thinkers” make the moolah $


My mom and sister are both avid quilters. I teach sewing skills to my students and had not considered them working on a project together. This is something I am going to do and let them complete service projects for the Infant Crisis Center. It will help students develop empathy, teamwork, problem solving, and collaboration.
I’m a visual learner so I really love your analogy and ideas.


Compliance does not equal learning or application - it’s a good thing to think about when considering saying “shhh, take the test”.


I like the idea of using Symbaloo learning paths - I was thinking about a bingo choice board. So students can choose the activities they want to do but have to get a BINGO. It sounds similar to what you are thinking.