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Tag: student agency

How Data Notebooks Can Support Goal-Setting and Student Agency in Elementary School

February 25, 2019 by

This is the final article in a nine-part “In Real Life” series based on the complex, fundamental questions that practitioners in competency-based systems grapple with “in real life.” Links to the other posts can be found at the end of this article.

Goal-setting plays a big role in a personalized, competency-based learning environment: cultivating an awareness of why you’re working on what you’re working on, what’s next and instilling a sense of ownership over your learning and in your classroom community.

Even when you’re six.

At Batesburg-Leesville Primary School in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, students in first and second grade keep data notebooks to help them record their behavior, reading goals and progress. They track their growth each day and reference their data notebooks not only when they’re working, but also as a means of reflecting on their week. The data notebooks make students’ learning tangible to them.

Cultivating an awareness of learning is critical for all students – especially those students who struggle. According to Michelle Maroney, a second-grade teacher, “that visible record changes a student’s thinking. Before when we gave assessments, it was just taking a test. Now when they take an assessment they can see what it looks like from the last time to what it looks like today. They have that   visual,” says Maroney. “For kids way behind grade level, they feel defeated a lot. But when they can see their growth, they move at a much higher rate.”

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Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #16: Advance Upon Demonstrated Mastery

December 28, 2018 by

This is the seventeenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #16 Advance Upon Demonstrated Mastery on page 99. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page.

The mastery-based grading helps me understand what I need to learn or do differently. In the old way, when I got a number, I wouldn’t know what to do differently. With the learning targets, I can make better choices and revise things. Student, Young Women’s Leadership Academy

Advancement upon demonstrated mastery is a multi-layered concept that challenges many of the conventions of traditional schools. Too often it is condensed into a concept of ‘self-pace’ that fails to capture the big idea. In fact, if you think that competency-based education is about self-pace, I recommend that you go back to the beginning of the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education and read why the traditional system is failing us and the ten distinguishing features of competency-based education.

Advancement upon demonstrated mastery is better thought of as a culminating capacity that is developed when all the other 15 quality principles are in place. Let’s take a look at the three major capacities that are needed to have students be able to advance upon mastery in a way that is designed so every student is successful. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #12: Maximize Transparency

December 9, 2018 by

This is the thirteenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #12 Maximize Transparency on page 81. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

Transparency is by far one of the most powerful principles that drives personalized, competency-based education. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #7: Activate Student Agency and Ownership

November 26, 2018 by

This is the eighth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #7 Activate Student Agency and Ownership on page 59. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What is student agency?

The standard reply in our field these days is “voice and choice.” Certainly, “voice and choice” is a pithy memorable phrase. It also has value in that creating opportunity for students to have voice and choice in their daily lives is a relatively easy practice to introduce in the classroom. (more…)

3 Tools to Engage Ownership in Your Classroom

November 19, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

It’s easy to say teachers should give students more ownership of their learning. It’s easy to say students have to be motivated to learn. It’s easy to say teachers need to give up more control of the teaching and facilitate more of the learning. It’s easy to say but they are definitely NOT easy to do.

When students are drivers of the learning and not just passive recipients, it turns a dormant classroom into a thriving incubator of innovation. Many educators want to do all of these things but are too often left to figure out how to do it. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #2: Commit to Equity

October 25, 2018 by

This is the third article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #2 Commit to Equity on page 37. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

The pursuit of quality and the pursuit of equity have a reciprocal and reinforcing relationship. Honestly, I don’t know how you do one without the other. Although people and schools turn to competency-based education for many reasons, creating a more equitable system is inherent in what it means to create a competency-based system. We are trying to design a system in which success is the only option.

It helps to understand why the traditional system needs to change. Our understanding continues to deepen about how the traditional system undermines efforts of schools to create more equitable achievement. (more…)

When Equity and Student-Centered Learning Go Hand in Hand

October 18, 2018 by

I spent two days at the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative meeting last week. Kudos to the Student at the Center team for integrating equity and student-centered learning so deeply that they were one and the same. I’ll share three highlights of the meeting:

First, Eric Toshalis opened up the meeting with an acknowledgement that the meeting was taking place on lands that were originally those of Native Americans and that we were there without permission. After my trip to Aotearoa New Zealand, I have become a firm believer that we can build much stronger cultures of inclusivity if we are in a process of reconciliation and healing. I hold the greatest respect for Eric and JFF in launching the meeting in this way. (For those of you who are interested, this resource on how to honor native land can be helpful.) (more…)

Student-Centered Learning and Inclusion: Getting the Details Right

June 7, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Education Week on March 29, 2018.

Will student-centered learning be a real long-term driver for equity and inclusion? As with so much in education reform, the devil is in the details.

Or to put it more positively, successful education reforms abide by a set of basic principles. They build from strong learning and human development research, build the capacity of key actors to effectively implement the reform, and align to the demands of an evolving society. Following this logic, the Students at the Center Framework is designed for success. The framework of personalized, anytime, anywhere, mastery-based, and student-owned learning capitalizes on an increasingly sophisticated understanding of learning sciences and whole-child theory and the development of new technologies. And the framework aligns to the demands of the 21st century by staying focused on ensuring students have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for success and the capacity to make informed, active decisions in our society. Nevertheless, all the strong theory behind the framework doesn’t guarantee its promise can be realized for all learners, including those with different levels of abilities (the focus of this piece). Even when adopting a student-centered framework shaped from research on equity and inclusion–as this one is–actors must still be explicit in how to build equity and inclusion into design, planning, and implementation.

To see this first hand, we look closely at a foundational principle of the Students at the Center Framework: student ownership, or agency. Agency is essential to all aspects of the framework. For learning to take place anywhere and anytime, students must be able to make active choices about where and how they learn; for learning to be competency-based, students participate in determining how and when they demonstrate their learning; for learning to be personalized, students have to understand and communicate their needs, skills, and interests. Providing students conditions to exhibit agency is an educational best practice and essential for students entering a world where they have to make more choices about how they live and learn.

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What’s New: Three Great Resources

May 8, 2018 by

What’s the relationship between self-advocacy skills and self-determination? (Click image to enlarge.)

There are so many valuable reports and books being produced it is definitely hard to keep up (and CompetencyWorks is adding to the challenge, as we are releasing one report per month through June – each one rich with ideas and insights).

In this What’s New about Competency-Based Education, we are highlighting three resources very much worth your time to read or at least skim.

1. Agents of Their Own Success: Self-Advocacy Skills and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities in the Era of Personalized Learning by the National Center for Learning Disabilities

2. From Vision to Reality: Personalized, Competency-Based Learning for All Kids by Virgel Hammonds and Jesse Moyer, KnowledgeWorks

3. Communicating Personalized Learning to Families and Stakeholders: Terminology,Tools and Tips for Success by Karla Phillips, ExcelinEd, and Amy Jenkins, Education Elements

Agents of Their Own Success: Self-Advocacy Skills and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities in the Era of Personalized Learning is a must read for two reasons. First, it helps to make the connection between the concepts of self-advocacy and self-determination in the world of supporting students with disabilities, with the language of student agency used frequently in personalized learning and competency-based education. (more…)

Discover the Learner – Building the Skills of Agency and Self-Advocacy using the UDL Lens

April 10, 2018 by

This is the second in a three part series by Kathleen McClaskey, co-author of Make Learning Personal. See How to Personalize Learning. Read the first post here.

A core objective of personalized, competency-based schools that is described in the Teaching and Design Principle “Activate Student Agency and Ownership,” is to cultivate agency, “the ability to direct one’s course in life.” (See Designing for Equity for an overview of the design principles.) If we are to realize a personalized, competency-based system that nurtures and develops agency with each learner, then we do need to look at how a school could achieve that. You see, once a learner develops agency, he or she can self-advocate for the way they learn for a lifetime and “lead their own learning trajectory.” (more…)

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