My last few years in the classroom I really tried to achieve a more student led classroom, however I have had a really hard time wrapping my mind around how to achieve it on a day to day basis. Because I am extremely type A, I like to plan everything out the best I can, not to mention letting go of controlling the classroom and the content often goes against everything I learned in college. But I know that by focusing on shifting to a more student led classroom students become more engaged, independent, self aware, and able to find and run with their passions.
One way I have tried to "let go" and give my students more control is through the use of inquiry learning. Using this model I still take time to build background with my students on a topic, but then I really listen to the questions they want to investigate and those questions are what fuels our future learning.
January is when we begin to dive deep into inquiry with our Antarctica unit. After reading and learning more about Antarctica, students decide what they'd like to investigate further. Some students may wonder what it is like to visit Antarctica while others want to know what penguins do all day. We then make a plan to find out more through books, videos, classroom guests, and even video chat when we can. Here are some pictures of our learning:
We do spend time discussing what collaboration should look like, how to be a great group member, and what to do when things aren't going so well in a group. But overall, I am always amazed at how well students come together and collaborate on their final projects. Kindergartners have tons of passion about their learning and it shows when they are given ownership over their learning choices.
Want to know more? Here is an example of how I run a 3-4 week inquiry unit on the butterfly life cycle:
You can find this pacing guide and everything else you need for this butterfly unit here:
And other life cycles here:
I hope you will give student led learning a try in your classroom, even if it is just for one part of the day, you will soon become a believer like I did! Happy investigating!