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Self-Paced Learning For All Students

Jessica Solomon

Are you interested in self-paced learning but unsure of where to begin? Have you dipped a toe into a self-paced environment and long to share experiences and ideas with others? Are you a guru in your self-paced classroom and interested in inspiring fellow educators to embrace student-centered teaching? If you answered yes to any of these questions, join the conversation about the benefits and challenges of self-paced learning. We’ll begin with a case study examining how self-paced learning has been rolled out in a 5th grade math class this year. We will identify benefits and challenges inherent to this kind of teaching, including student engagement, classroom management, access to resources, and meeting the needs of all learners. You will also have the opportunity to brainstorm ways you can create and implement a self-paced unit of study in your own classroom, and in so doing will reflect on some very important questions. What do your students need to learn? Why is it important? How will they be using their new knowledge and skills? How will they receive help? What are their capabilities and limitations? Where can they find out what they need to know, and how will they know they were successful? With a spirit of collaboration and inquiry, we will deep dive into the possibilities that exist for students in a self-paced classroom to exercise agency, develop executive functioning skills, and increase their capacity for independent learning. Teachers of all age groups are welcome to participate and contribute their expertise.

Conversational Practice

This is my first foray into facilitating a conversation, but I am excited about the opportunity. My goal is to use personal narrative and student artifacts to showcase a self-paced unit of study in my own math classroom. Using this as an introduction, my hope is to group together like-minded educators (perhaps those who teach within the same discipline, but also those who want to think further about particular issues related to self-paced learning) who can then use the time to generate shared (or individual) learning maps they can use in their own classrooms for a particular unit of interest. It would be helpful if I could reach out to conversation participants in advance, though not necessary, so I could get a sense of why they are participating , what questions they have, and what they hope to get out of the conversation. If this is not realistic, then I will begin the session by asking those questions and try to tailor the conversation to respond in real time. I will make sure that there are resources available for research purposes, as well as a rubric participants can use as they design their learning maps. I do like the idea of creating a wiki that can be accessed after our conversation, when we head home, to continue the work of establishing self-paced learning practices.

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