I hope everybody has had a great start to their school year.
I am planning on using my blog for the next few months as a vehicle for people to share the ways in which they are helping their kids become more self-directed.
Of course, I am hoping you’ll read my book: Self Directed Writers: The Third Essential Element in the Writing Workshop and try some of the ideas I wrote about and/or create your own.
To start the conversation I will share two thoughts/ideas I have had about self-directed learners since the year has started.
In my book, I talk about different words that describe self-directed learners. One of the words I use is a self-starter. Both of the examples below show you ways to help your kids become self-starters.
Create an environment that allows kids to be self-starters:
Recently my daughter, Ariana, learned to crawl. It wasn’t long after she learned to crawl that she realized that crawling allowed her to leave a room and go exploring independently.
It’s been so much fun for me to watch her and although this new skill makes my life harder in some ways, in most ways my life is now easier.
The reason for this is because crawling has allowed her to become more self-directed. She is less reliant on me for all of her adventures.
Interestingly, one of the first things I did once she started crawling was to look at my home environment and revise it so that she could get to her stuff more easily.
I wasn’t intentionally trying to nurture her into becoming more self-directed, but watching her make choices about what she wanted to play with in our home made me realize I had: Watch her right here: Ariana being self-directed
In my new book, I designate one whole chapter to creating environments that nurture kids into becoming more self-directed.
It shouldn’t be surprising that I can help Ariana become more self-directed just by being thoughtful about my home environment. I believe that teachers can do the same thing in their classrooms.
I would love to hear what you have done or want to do with your classroom environment to support kids in becoming more self-directed.
Give kids options so that they can become self-starters
Recently I worked with a group of second grade teachers at PS 230 in Brooklyn, New York. A word that seemed to keep coming up during our meeting was the word options. We knew that if we wanted kids to be self-directed then we needed to make sure there were always options for them. If we always told them what to do every moment of writing workshop, they would never be in a position to make a decision and therefore would not become more self-directed.
We knew that we wanted to give kids options during the work time in writing workshop. The second grade teachers wanted to create a chart that named these options. They wanted these options to not only build upon what the kids had learned in first grade, but also be able to be used across the year in different units of study.. Here is the list that they came up with:
- Add, change or take out
- Start a new piece
- Write a connected piece
- Make a plan for a new piece
This list built upon what the teachers in grade 1 had done in a variety of ways. The first grade teachers had taught their kids that they could add to or change their pieces but second grade was going to also help kids understand how taking out a part of their writing was a way to revise as well.
The first grade teachers had taught their kids that they could start a new piece but writing a connected piece or making a plan were both new options for them.
All of this would help kids not only keep busy during writing workshop, but also do high quality work.
The second grade teacher also knew that this list with some explanation could be used in all of their writing units of study.
I would love to hear from you!
Any questions or concerns about my book?
What have you tried in your classroom around the idea of self-directed learning?
Until next time,