Page 16 - FIS World June 2021
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Finding the “Goldilocks Zone”
Increasing student autonomy through time and place
 With task management in their
own hands, students can opt to work in various spaces throughout the school, either independently or in small groups.
As teachers, we have almost complete control over what we teach young people. Students must come to classrooms at specific times for a lesson, and
courses are taught at the pace that works for the teacher. However, we have little control whether students actually choose to learn.
It is difficult to find the “Goldilocks zone” – for some students, the lesson will be too fast, for others too slow, and for a few it will be just right. Our school closure in March 2020 due to Covid-19 showed us that students could work at home autonomously, at their own pace and when they wanted. They didn’t need to be with us physically or work at the same time or the same speed, so when students came back to campus in August, we decided to investigate autonomous learning in our Grade 6 English and Grade 12 Business Management classrooms.
We began our action research by giving students autonomy over lesson pacing and their own task management. This involved students having a list of instructions, pre-recorded class videos and other curated content, and a variety of interactive tasks related to the unit. Unlike in a normal class session where students receive the lesson only once, they
were able to pause and rewind any part of the lesson to increase their own understanding. Ninety-one percent of Grade 6 students surveyed found this way of learning useful or very useful, and one Grade 12 student noted, “if something was unclear I could re- watch the screencast.”Other feedback was positive, as well: “I felt responsible because even though I could watch Youtube and play games, I did not.”
From a teacher’s point of view, we felt this approach ultimately provided both differentiated and more personalized learning. And since we weren’t delivering content “live,” we had more time in class to accommodate different approaches to learning, and hold discussions and debates with groups of students. We were also able to help individual students through check-ins, one-on-one tutoring and personalized coaching.
Covid-19 showed us that learning wasn’t restricted to the classroom, and therefore we added more autonomy by allowing students increased choice over where they worked during regular class time. During one unit in Grade 6 English, approximately half of the students chose to work somewhere else in school. In Grade 12 Business Management, lessons
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