Trying to understand students on a personalized level takes a lot of hard work. But after investing time and energy into my classroom I figure why not give them all of the paperwork and worksheets and say go.
Tips to creating a self-pace classroom:
- Start laying down the groundwork at least one unit ahead. This includes knowing your students data– learning styles, for ELA, reading and writing levels.
- Have a strong discipline or classroom management system in place before the self-pace begins.
- Parent support, think of a way to incorporate parent acknowledgement during the first week of self-pace environment. I gave extra credit on their Assignment Logs if a parent signs it before they turn it in, and I double dared students to show their Dinner Menu [assignment rubric] to their parents and with a signature they would receive extra points on their Day 1 notes.
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together
Ok so with a diverse group of students, how can this be done for every level of reading and comprehension provided? Many teachers lament the perfect plan, but I’m learning how silly perfection is in life. Although I can intellectually understand I am not a perfect person in a perfect world, I know things may not go together.
This type of classroom environment takes weeks of planning. Also, for middle school communities, it may only work on certain units. As an ELA educator, I had to identify the right time for a self-paced unit, and for me it developed from our Real Life Heroes unit. Students must evaluate and analyze informational texts and determine the advantages and disadvantages of various mediums. The best way to show mastery of these concepts– a Museum Exhibit. The reason being, of course, everyone loves doing a Museum Exhibit. However, I had to decide the best way to provide choices and options to students so they could customize the information. We have already learned about heroes in literature, we have already discussed research and textual evidence, and we have already created our own products. So why not seize the moment and move on momentum. I gave them a personalized learning Dinner Menu assignment. Making this unit tailor-made for self-pace.
Rules of Engagement:
- Same base materials for every class.
- Students have to be assigned seats based on their reading comprehension level and their least talkative partnerships.
- Students have to complete an Assignment Log daily highlighting what they worked on to be initialed by me daily.
- Students could not get out of their seats unless they raised their hands.
- Students are able to choose their topic/theme, but I provided the recommended class structure.
- I had to demonstrate guides immediately for suggestive assignment lengths to help them along their way.
How comfortable are you with allowing self-pace in the classroom?
Do you think your students will react with enthusiasm?