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Self Directed Learning in MLE

Started by Sarah Quinlan 08 May 2015 2:40pm () Replies (29)

Hi, I am currently doing an inquiry into self directed learning within a modern learning environment. I'm really keen to learn more about how students (particularily young ones) are encouraged to self direct and how this is effectively managed and controlled in an environment with large numbers. Any help or advice would be greatlty appreciated!


  • Mia (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2015 3:24pm ()

    Another interesting thread. I'm learning so much. Neill, your posts always get me thinking. I too have had concerns about the quality of activities for 'must dos' and can dos'. This is something I have thought a lot about when thinking about our environment for next year (and in my single class programme this year). I think a good way to think about it is to think if a kid asked me 'why am I doing this?'. My yr7-8 kids are happy to question and it makes me even more focused on the why of everything I do!

    I also really liked your thing about 'learning coaches' rather than rovers. This was already in my planning for next year, but I'm going to get my team to create a job description for this role. 

  • Sarkkunan (View all users posts) 24 Aug 2015 1:34pm ()

    Hi Sarah and all,

    I read this article on the Sudbury-model school recently and the sense of self-directed learning it espouses is quite fascinating. It is almost an ideal and it is hard to imagine if we take curriculum delivery and accountability into consideration. Nonetheless, hope it is a useful read.

    This is the first thread that I am reading since I joined VLN. I am really impressed with the comments and replies. It is extremely encouraging to see such a supportive community. Glad to be part of it :)

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 20 Aug 2015 10:14am ()

    Yeah agree with that.  I have roamed when I finished observing and assisting a student running a workshop for the first time, and there is a place for it.  Its not something we do regularly and isn't embedded into daily or weekly routines.  Just something that has happened randomly. 

  • Stuart Priddy (View all users posts) 20 Aug 2015 10:05am ()

    Hi Hamish

    Thats fine.  What it probably should say is having an extra teacher and utilising that teacher effectively can result in some powerful gains / achievements / successes / engagements in the class.  As opposed to just having the extra teacher just roam without any meaning.

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 20 Aug 2015 9:56am ()

    Hi Stuart,

    I'm not sure I agree. I don't think a roaming teacher is crucial to the success of a collaborative environment. But I'm thinking that I am assuming too much from your statement like Neill O'Reilly has done.  Great post BTW Neil  !!!  


    We have a group of 80 students, with three teachers, and if one of our teachers was roaming that would mean a significant loss of available workshops for students.   An example of one workshop that I have run is the following.   

    Subject: Enabling Resilience & Creativity

    Content: Programming and coding - Students are programming using GUI's to create a series of instructions.  End result will be a game where user actions enable the character to perform functions. 

    Outcomes: Writing Reading Math and science - Even though the content is coding, and outcomes are based around the curriculum 'subjects'.

    Once students have gained the content, they are then able to run workshops, demonstrating their knowledge.  This then means the teacher is free to run more advanced workshops.   I don't see where our teachers would have time to roam, as we don;'t have enough time in the day to run all the workshops we want to now.    

    We don't often facilitate a group of more than 7-10 students.  Sometimes a physical fitness session will consist of 25 students, but other than that its all workshops and focus meetings.


  • Cole Paige (View all users posts) 20 Aug 2015 8:52am ()

    Hi Neill

    Congratulations on contributing to this discussion with 'balance'. Through asking the questions around the purpose of our actions/learning plan/ etc we can identify if they are being implemented for the acceleration of student progress and achievement or an adult driver (evidence of impact).

    Thanks for keeping it real.


  • Stuart Priddy (View all users posts) 19 Aug 2015 8:44am ()

    Valid comments Neil. The role of the roaming or extra teacher is crucial to the success of a collaborative environment.  I believe it is also an opportunity for this teacher to do some great one to one when needed.  the problem is we have all jumped into this without any clear definitions of the roles, which is great on one level as it allows for schools to be creative etc.  It needs some one like you to come up with great models of expectations of the extra teacher.

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 19 Aug 2015 6:10am ()

    Hi Cheryl,

    Great to see what you are up to!

    Just re the 'Roaming teacher" I note a lot of schools around NZ are using this name, I hope it really does't mean roaming for roaming sake...

    Here is some thinking for you:

    If schools need a teacher to 'roam' to manage behaviour then they need to examine the culture they are creating, In a quality collaborative teaching and learning environment the students should be learning about how to self manage and self regulate (this will be taught explicitly and related to the KC's). This includes goal setting, self monitoring, reflection etc... In other words they should for the most part be able to self manage or be learning how to (not there just yet for some!) and both teachers can focus on teaching.

    Another option:

    One teach, one assist. One teacher is teaching a group (typically guided teaching) and the other teacher is a "Learning Coach". The role of the Learning Coach is to workshop with students, support children with "Just in time" learning, challenge children in their learning and support those who are struggling etc. The teachers in a collaborative space, or the school if you have more than one collaborative space, should come up with a job description for the Learning Coach.

    This is important for a number of reasons:

    It keeps teachers and students learning focussed

    It defines the job of the Learning Coach

    It communicates to parents and one another we are collaborating to enhance learning outcomes, to improve self regulation and to support hauora.

    Bottom line- Roaming is random!

    Must do's and Can do's

    I am also seeing evidence of "Must do's" and "Can do's" really just been low quality busy activities done with worksheets (and in some cases with no feedback for the student....) So,  making sure "Must do's" and "Can do's" are quality learning not just busy worksheets  will impact on the child's ability to self manage (I would be disruptive if I had to do busy activities).

    The question we should be asking ourselves all the time are:

    Is this quality teaching and learning?

    How do I know? (what evidence do we have that what we are doing is making a difference for learners?)

    Are we collaborating in ways that enhance our teaching and maximise our skills?

    Does our collaboration produce a benefit for learners? (Improved outcomes, self regulation, hauora)?


    Hope this helps


  • Sam Gibson (View all users posts) 05 Aug 2015 10:51am ()

    Hi Abbie, great inquiry. I have recently moved into a MLE and self-directed learning is one of our main focuses. I blog about what we do and my ideas at www.tomorrowslearners.com. Hopefully a lot of the posts will be useful for your inquiry.


    Sam Gibson


  • Lynne Silcock (View all users posts) 28 Jul 2015 3:15pm ()

    I love the ideas shared in this discussion - especially the concept of explicitly teaching students about noise management as part of self management.

    I would add that for some students sensory overload can be an issue - this may a problem regardless of whether they are in a modern or more traditional learning environment. Some things I have seen used to cater for these students include:

    • having access to quiet spaces when they need them or at specific times of the day. This does not have to be a whole room - for example I have seen classes where students simply sit themselves inside a large cardboard box that opens on one side (thus reducing sensory input from three sides) or under in a desk
    • use headphones to reduce noise when it becomes overwhelming or again at specific times/when they need it (obviously this would not be a good idea for the whole day as it could isolate the student)
    • work with the student to identify the areas in the room that are best to minimise background noise, such as away from fans, heaters and road traffic.

    I would love to hear more ideas about how teachers and schools are catering for these students.



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