As I read about the Learner Centered perspective (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 133-136), specifically regarding respecting language practices, I was pleased to hear about how the everyday speech of African American high school students was validated rather than discouraged. Historically, African American everyday speech was viewed as improper and/or underdeveloped and students were required to alter their informal speech practices which often resulted in feelings of inferiority. I believe that students should learn that different speaking situations require a variety of speech styles and that having a repertoire of language styles and knowing when to use them is a worthwhile skill.
The section describing a Knowledge Centered perspective (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 136-139) discussed “progressive formalization”. I would like to incorporate this strategy more in my classroom and have come up with a couple different ways I can do this easily. First, a KWL chart allows students to see how their initial ideas can be “transformed and formalized.” You simply compare the “know” section with the “learned” section. Secondly, if students take a pre-test at the beginning of a unit they can compare the results with the same test taken at the middle of the unit and also compare these results with another one taken at the end of the unit. This would provide a clear picture to students of how their learning has developed. I notice that our instructors for this class are employing this strategy as they ask us to synthesize our current learning into the original hypothesis we developed at the beginning of this course!
An Assessment Centered classroom (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 139-144) uses frequent formative assessment with many opportunities for feedback. This made me re-think my use of portfolios. Rather than collecting students’ work and compiling it for an end of the year look at their progress, I plan on making my portfolio system more interactive. I plan to have students take more of a part in compiling their portfolios throughout the year and at the same time encourage them to discuss how their learning has developed, what they have learned well, and what they can do to improve their learning.
Community Centered classrooms (National Research Council, 2000, pp. 144-149 )often are part of a school that has positive relationships among the adults in that school. This reminds me that as a teacher, it is important to continuously connect with other teachers and staff. It is important to take the time to join others in the staff lounge during lunch or to go ahead and quickly share my student’s success/frustration story with my neighbor teacher. These are the interactions that help form a strong staff community, and thereby foster an optimal learning environment for students.
National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind experience and school (expanded ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.