Empowered Learners


 Some rights reserved by Ken Whytock

Our school has adopted the ISTE standards for teachers and students. I talked to a colleague yesterday about the idea of empowered learner.  We’ve focused on this from a digital literacy point of view, and as a teacher, I try to focus on this in my class as well.

As DLCs, we’ve tried to change how our PD works. We wanted the choice to come from teachers rather than from administration.  We believe that everyone basically knows what they are good at, and should have some understanding of where to go.  A member of our team has created a list of basic competencies we expect all teachers to have.  It is up to them to go through the list and see if they know or don’t know what is needed (if they don’t know we have videos provided through Lynda to help them, or we are around to help people to address specific needs.

Not all teachers like this model, we are preparing something for the people who are beyond the core competencies and have already received their google, apple teacher or whatever. We are planning on doing a blogging group. We are focused on this as an empowered learning opportunity, we are co-learning, we all lead, we all follow, we all learn together. I’m really looking forward to this aspect for my own personal learning.

Finally (for now I guess) in the classroom my students are being constantly encouraged to take control of their own learning.  Today we did a simcity 2000 activity. I wanted to focus on two things. My explicit lesson was how do we build a city, my implicit lesson was how do we problem solve.  Students didn’t read how to play and were very bothered, they got frustrated, couldn’t build power plants and had a hard time working on any thing, their cities never were constructed.  I called them to the learning area and we discussed some of the problems we faced.  So then I asked, “So, what did you do to solve these problems?”.  They all asked me to solve their problems for them.  We brought up again what it meant to be a learner, and how we learn best.  Even using the internet for a game they couldn’t think of using it to solve their problems.  I explained to them how I worked through the same problems on my own.  It took some time, but so much of learning does.  In the end, my students have a better understanding of how to start solving problems, and next time our cities will hopefully be much more interesting.

By embracing the empowered learning standard we’ve had some great opportunities to authentically learn, and work with our students and colleagues.

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