Empowering Students

Five Ways to Empower Students is a great article that provides some ideas on ways to motivate, engage and empower your students.

Here are the five ways the author of the article mentions and my thoughts on each of them:

1. Give your students a voice through forums for student feedback

I believe feedback is important for students to receive. Sometimes all that matters to students is the number or the letter grade, but at other times feedback is meaningful to them. It can be a motivator if you did well on an assignment or a test, it can give you guidance on where to improve, and questions to consider for further learning. think that when you as a teacher take the time to write down thoughts as you are marking or reviewing, they can help you explain to students their mark and to answer questions they have. This all can come from a teacher, but imagine what students can offer. Students can collaborate and share ideas and thoughts about their classmates work with one another, offer suggestions and support one another. Sometimes it is very meaningful to hear from your peers and  to see different viewpoints than your own on a certain topic.

2. Give students decision-making power in an area of curriculum

In classes I have taken and through out internship there has been emphasis placed on having students involved choosing what they learn. Students can share with you their funds of knowledge – knowledge that they bring with them to school from their lives and experiences, their interests and what they want to learn about. Within the curriculum guides, there is room within a topic area for students to perhaps choose a novel for example. Even having students lead discussions and encouraging them to ask many questions and find answers is a great idea. This all shows students that they are involved in what they learn, and that not everything has to come from the teacher.

3. Put yourself in the sandbox – work with your students

Learn with your students. It`s okay to say that sometimes you don`t know all of the answers to questions students have. We as teachers are learners too – as we are not masters on every topic we teach. Shared examples of assignments and having your students teach you and the class are great ideas as well. Encouraging collaboration with your students in their learning can be a rewarding for both you and them.

4. Encourage meaningful technology use in the classroom 

There are so many tools technology can provide that enhances learning. Now with some many different devices and internet access – you have access to a world opportunities. Chats, collaboration with others and communication can happen any time. There are now many different options for assessments in terms of assignments you can give students. Lessons can be enhanced through images, presentations, videos, interactive demonstrations, feedback and more. Students can now express their understanding and creativity through many mediums other than simply using a pen and piece of paper.

5. Involve students in “real” issues

Topics you are teaching to your students need to be relative to them, and interest them as well. They need to develop skills that they can use everyday and in their lives outside of the classroom as well. Students can benefit from hands on learning and working with others. There are many opportunities to engage students in service learning and social justice – through projects, volunteering, leadership and being a role model are just a few examples. Students can also share what they are learning with others and can educate them as well.

Allowing students to express themselves and empowering them can lead to self-motivation and engagement which gets students excited about learning.

Do you have any other suggestions of ways to empower students?

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2 thoughts on “Empowering Students

  1. Great post Cynthia! It’s so important for us as educators to ensure that in our teaching we are engaging and empowering our students in what they are learning. I believe all 5 of these ways are excellent examples to help empower students in their learning. Another possible way to empower students could be the use of Student-Centred learning. During my internship I taught a Student-Centred Social Unit on the Colonization of Canada based off of a unit that @kirkfiege created. The unit was taught by placing students into different groups such as “Algonquian” or “Plains” Tribes as well as “British or “French” Colonies. Each group was responsible for assigning each member a role they would be responsible for within the group. Then the students would meet in their different locations around the school and complete task sheets that had been tailored for their particular group. The entire unit was a simulation of how colonization occurred and how it affected each group. I really liked Kirk’s idea for this unit because it made students responsible for their own learning and allowed them the opportunity “discover” what they were learning, rather than have me “cover” it in classroom setting. The unit was extremely successful and the kids loved it. It was definitely the highlight of my internship! I don’t think I did it justice through my explanation, so if you want to learn more about this amazing Social unit contact Kirk, I’m sure he would be glad to tell you all about it! Here’s the link to his blog: http://mrfiege.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/tt6/

    1. Thanks Matt! Student-centred learning sounds like a great way to involve and empower students. Sounds like a really interesting unit and way to teach the concept of colonization! – I’ll have to check it out!

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