10 Ways to Plan a Student-Centered Lesson that Will Get them (and You!) Excited

January 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Classroom Management and Organization

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You hear snippets of student conversation in the hallways or perhaps during lessons. You chuckle with them or to yourself. Maybe you even make a comment to them that’s agreeable. No doubt – this kind of scenario strengthens the teacher-student relationship and class dynamics.

But in my mind, the real connection to students comes with learning. As Anthony Cody says, “put the student in the driver’s seat.” I like that metaphor because it implies many positive things regarding how students can take control over the learning process.

Here are 10 ways to plan a student-centered lesson. You will gradually enhance your classroom management techniques when you provide quality content that is student-driven and centered. By doing so, you also put the focus on your students instead of on yourself. These links below have been classroom tested for many years with my students. Be aware however, that some of the questions and/or content may not be suitable for some of your classes/groups of students, so adapt accordingly. Good luck!

1. Learn your learners. Ask students what topics they enjoy learning about. You can distribute a survey or simply have them look in their textbook. Use the results to plan your first unit.

2. Distribute a student attitude survey. Click on the English version here, download it. Use the results to create an individual student profile.

3. Gather learner feedback pages. I like the reminders here on gathering feedback. You can adapt some of these questions on formative and summative questions to suit your classes.

4. Click and download this page “How Well Do You Know your Students?” Again, adapt it to suit your own teaching needs.

5. Encourage sudents to reflect on their lessons. This page is for teachers but again, the topic can also be approached from a student-centered position as well.

6. Provide opportunities for students to self-assess themselves using rubrics you custom design based on your students’ skills and abilities. Rubrics.com is an excellent resource for all teachers.

7. Provide as many opportunities as possible to enrich your curriculum using alternative assessment such as projects and performance tasks. Such learning tasks create a positive learning atmosphere because they focus on what the students can do and cater to their interests/learning styles. Students are also more likely to learn when they are motivated about a topic.

8. Encourage students to ask questions. Whenever possible, provide guiding questions that encourage students to thinking about a process they have just learned.

9. Provide students with opportunities to work with their peers using group and pair work. Social goals are connected with educational goals, which should be weaved into the curriculum and lessons as often as possible. Click here for an article on how to prepare your class for group work.

10. Ask students to give you feedback on how to improve the lessons. Note of caution: Don’t do this just yet if you have still a shaky relationship with your class. Strengthen your class dynamics, classroom management techniques and student-teacher relationships and then ask students for their feedback. Use these simple questions to guide you:

1. What worked? (in the lesson)
2. What didn’t?
3. What’s next? (What part(s) of the lesson can be improved?)

If you have any other ideas for involving students in the learning process, please leave your ideas in the comment box. I’ll respond to them. Much appreciated!


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