8 Ways to Have a More Student Centered Classroom

Student centered learning is an approach to education that puts the student at the center of the learning process. It focuses on the needs, interests, and abilities of individual students, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. In a student-centered classroom, the teacher serves as a facilitator rather than a traditional lecturer. They guide and support students as they explore and learn about a topic, rather than simply delivering information to them.

Tips to Have a More Student Centered Classroom

If you are looking to have a more student centered classroom here are 8 things to consider:

1. Student Led Assessment

Typically as teachers we choose the assessment for the student. However, an assessment does not have to be a paper and pencil test nor does it have to be one size fits all. Consider that you want to assess students on standard x. Provide students a list of options, with a test being one of the options, for how they want to demonstrate to you that they know standard x. Create a rubric that focuses on what the learning will show rather than what the required elements of the project are.

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2. Emphasize Student Voice and Choice

Since a student centered classroom has a more individualized approach it makes sense that students would have some options for what they are doing or learning. Choices do not have to be big choices but consider that every day students have some level of choice they can make.

Student voice is like letting someone choose the restaurant. They may choose Hamburger place or Pizza place. Student choice is like the menu at the restaurant. Once the restaurant is chosen you must choose from their menu. You can’t order a hamburger at the pizza place.

Heather Lyon – Author of Engagement is Not a Unicorn (It’s a Narwhal)

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3. Foster Collaboration

Encourage students to work together and share ideas, rather than working individually.

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4. Use Current Events

Have students identify current events happening in the world. What is a challenge they can work together to solve around the current event. Be sure to clearly identify what standard the students need to address in their challenge. Alternatively, offer a variety of standards they could include. Allowing students to review what is going on in the world makes their learning more relevant. This gets students outside of the textbook. An added bonus is that current events do not have easily Googleable solutions to copy. Have the student identify challenges and propose solutions. Feeling like you are solving the worlds problems makes your learning more meaningful.

5. Encourage Student-Led Discussions

Oftentimes the person doing the majority of the talking is the teacher. To be a student centered classroom you would want more than 50% of the talking to be the students. Try setting a 5 minute timer. When the timer goes off, even mid sentence, a student has to say something. You can have as many 5 minute segments as you want, however they can not be consecutive.

“Hattie’s synthesis of studies on the topic, detailed in his 2012 book, Visible Learning for Teachers, found that teachers talk for 70 percent to 80 percent of class time on average. His own research produced an even higher average: 89 percent.”

Catherine Gewertz in EducationWeek

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6. Use Technology

Not having all students do the same thing is very tricky without some technology. Talking less is easier when students have access to Google search information instead of waiting for the teacher to give it to them. This allows students to explore ideas and for the teacher to spend more time facilitating.

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7. Answer Questions with Questions

At first students really hate this. Answering a question with a question is a surefire way to get accused of “You’re not doing your job.” There is definitely a misperception that teaching is talking and doing the thinking for the student. We want to teach students to think and to do that we have to give them more questions than answers. What questions can you ask students to help them to know where to look or to figure out the answer. Productive struggle is essential for learning critical thinking!

It is not our job to rescue students from thinking.

Dr. Jo Boaler

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8. Encourage Student Reflection

Sometimes the lesson and activity is not the learning. Students can learn more from failure than success sometimes. Reflecting on the learning experience can allow students to really think about what they learned and what else they want to learn. The reflection is the real learning. I like to say that “all assignments are reflection assignments.” What I love about Google Classroom is the Private Comments. No matter the activity, I want students to reflect on what they learned from the activity. What did they struggle with? What do they still not understand? What do they want to learn more about? Especially at the start of the school year I will provide some sentence stems or prompts to help guide their reflection. I need to do this less as the year goes on. For some activities I do not need to look at their work at all. Their reflection tells me much more about what they learned than checking that they wrote the correct answer on a line.

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Have a More Student Centered Classroom

creating a more student-centered classroom can lead to a more engaging and meaningful learning experience for students and can have a positive impact on their academic success.

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