Monday, January 5, 2015

A framework for a mastery-based classroom

I've been working on building a mastery-based and student-centered high school science classroom system based on Pink's ideas on motivation. Here's what I've identified as 7 key elements:
  1. Start with meaningful standards. Can't overemphasize this--this is how to tap into two of the three keys to motivation: mastery and purpose. We're all more likely to want to master clear, clearly meaningful/practical goals, especially when they tie into a purpose bigger than ourselves.
  2. Class discussions regarding the objectives. Unpacking them together. 
  3. Students set their own goals (#autonomy) regarding the objectives and plan their learning process. I'm interested in teaching deconstruction as a learning technique (a la Tim Ferriss).
  4. Students choose among options for learning activities/products to better suit their interest and readiness. Autonomy, again.
  5. Students get immediate feedback as they work (from me and peers and self-assessment).
  6. Students get multiple attempts to master the material/skills. No zeros. No late penalties. Incentive to keep working is intrinsic, plus the realization that falling too far behind is a very real danger.
  7. Students share their work with each other and the world. @Twitter is key here, but @YouTube, etc. are also great.
Already running #4, and #6, and we've done some work with #3 and #7. Bottle necks are at #1, #5, and, surprisingly, #7. Building a truly meaningful curriculum would be a lot of work, but it would be worth it. Quick, quality feedback is always a challenge, but working on enlisting students to do it themselves and also on using more informal feedback rather than always using the formal rubric. Many students aren't up to speed with sharing things online, or are not ready to show their friends that they are scholars, but we're working on it.

I feel like if I can build the right structure, one that is in line with human nature, and then build relationships on top of it, it will run itself.

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