From Compliance to Engagement to Empowerment
We often talk about what it means to move from compliance to engagement. It’s the idea of creating an environment where students want to learn rather than have to learn. This is that top level of engagement, where students are highly committed and highly focused. But I wonder how often we stop there, with committed and focused students who aren’t getting the chance to own their learning.
If we want students to be creative, self-directed learners, we need to go beyond student engagement and into empowerment. They need to own the learning. My friend George describes this as a continuum based upon student agency.
Note that highly engaging environments often promote empowerment because they focus on student agency and ownership. The moment you add student ownership to student engagement, you have empowerment.
Some quick nuance here. Compliance isn’t always a bad thing. When the fire drill goes off, I want students to comply. Engagement isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes I want to engage students in learning something that they will find intriguing and interesting. After all, the highly engaging environment of the pioneer museum led the students to a place where they wanted to own their learning. But too often, students in school remain in a space between compliance and engagement, never getting the opportunity to own their learning.
Articles on Choice and Empowerment
The following are the articles I’ve written on what it means to empower students with voice and choice. Note that I continue to update this and revise this, so be sure to bookmark this page an come back to revisit it periodically.
The Benefits to Students
- Seven Ways to Help Students Embrace an Entrepreneurial Mindset
- What Happens to Students Who Are Empowered
- Why Science Says the Average Student Doesn’t Exist
Making the Shift
- Making the Shift from Student Engagement to Student Empowerment
- Who Owns the Learning in Your Classroom?
- The Five Biggest Fears that Kept Me From Empowering Students
- Teachers Need a Roadmap Not an Instruction Manual
- Tips for Getting Started with Student Choice
- As Much Freedom as Possible
- Three Ice Cream Shops
Instructional Strategies for Student Choice
- 10 Ways to Leverage Student Choice
- Taking Choice Menus to the Next Level for Student Ownership
- How to Empower Students While Also Hitting the Standards
- What happens when kids struggle with choice?
- How to Help Students Ask Better Questions (Owning the Inquiry Process)
Student Ownership of the Assessment Process
- Alternative Assessments
- Student Portfolios
- Peer Assessment (Coming Soon)
- 20-Minute Peer Feedback System
- Self-Assessment Strategies (Coming Soon)
- Student-Teacher Conferencing
- 7 Strategies for Improving Student Feedback
Examples of Student-Centered Projects and Strategies
- Six Student-Centered Projects for the First Week of School
- Genius Hour Projects (Students Choose Topics and Strategies)
- Geek Out Projects (Students Choose the Topics)
- Divergent Thinking Projects (Students Choose the Creative Process)
- Wonder Day and Wonder Week (Students Ask the Questions)
- Podcast Projects (Students Share Their Voice)
- Podcast Project Ideas
What Is Included:
- Sample student-centered projects , complete with videos, slideshows, lesson plans, and a student notebook
- The Empower Blueprint eBook
- A suite of assessments you can use as you implement design thinking
- Structures you can use as you shift toward student ownership
Get the Toolkit
Please leave your email address below and click the yellow subscribe button to receive the free design thinking toolkit. It includes a free design thinking project, an eBook, and a suite of assessments. I will also send you a weekly email with free, members-only access to my latest blog posts, videos, podcasts and resources to help you boost creativity and spark innovation in your classroom.