5 ways to create a community of learners

5 strategies for independent learning

When students take ownership of their education, online learning is more likely to succeed

Fifth-grade teacher Kim Voge has had students literally beg her to give them more writing assignments. As Jon Corippo, chief learning officer for the nonprofit group Computer-Using Educators (CUE), put it: “When do you see that ever?”

Voge has also watched students who began her class too shy to ask questions blossom into confident, capable, autonomous learners who can ask for help or advocate for themselves.

What’s her “secret sauce?” This 26-year veteran educator has created a culture of student-centered, independent learning in her classroom. As it turns out, this approach has served both Voge and her students exceptionally well in transitioning to remote learning during the pandemic, as neither have skipped a beat in moving the process fully online.

Focus on student ownership

A big concern for teachers in shifting to remote instruction has been how to manage students and make sure they complete assignments without watching over them all day.

Teaching students how to learn independently — and giving them the practice they need to develop this skill — can alleviate this concern. When students take ownership of their learning, they’re well positioned to succeed in a remote learning environment, as Voge’s experience demonstrates.

Voge, who teaches at Van Buren Elementary School in California’s Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, returned to the classroom last fall after serving as a digital learning instructional coach for seven-plus years.

When schools shut down in March amid the coronavirus outbreak, her students already knew how to work in Google Classroom and create collaborative slide decks with their classmates. They were proficient in accessing information and completing assignments right from their Chromebooks. They even knew how not to intrude on each others’ slides and other essential digital citizenship skills.

Dennis Pierce

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