August 28, 2013

Moving from traditional to progressive teaching

After presenting results-only learning to a group of 150 charter school teachers in Ohio, one enthusiastic participant asked, "What was the biggest challenge in your transformation?" I had discussed discarding all traditional teaching methods -- lecture, worksheets, homework, testing and even grades.

This was a challenging question and much broader than the queries I'm used to during these presentations. After some contemplation, I decided the most difficult of part moving from the daily grind of lecture-practice-assign homework-quiz to a vibrant student-centered classroom was replacing the old approach with projects that encompass many learning outcomes.

I spent a lot of time, discarding the old worksheets, workbooks and homework assignments, I told the inquisitive session participant. Many hours heading into the school year and throughout suddenly were filled with planning detailed, step-by-step projects that would take an entire grading period or more to complete.

Along the way, I created brief, interactive lessons that helped students acquire the skills necessary to apply new knowledge to the projects. My evenings during the school year were spent trolling websites or creating instructional videos that students could use throughout their project work and spark more inquiry on their part.

Weaving standards or learning outcomes into lengthy projects that students love and that truly demonstrate learning is a challenging, yet amazing, part of creating a progressive, results-only learning environment.

What challenges do you face?

Don't miss ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, now available in the ASCD store, Barnes & Noble and at and Mark's new book, The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom

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