Participate In Meaningful Experiential Learning
As 2015 kicks off, educators are looking to this year’s Learning Opportunities Annual Report (LOAR) to establish methods of learning and improve the quality of our public school system. With more than half of students in charter, magnet, and immersion schools having English as a second language, students and teachers across America are looking for educational methods that also lead to authentic experiential learning experiences. As a school practice, meaningful experiential learning provides a context for English language learners, students with disabilities, students whose home language isn’t English, and English learners to not only acquire new skills and practice fluency but also to assess their own learning progress. It also helps students from less advantaged backgrounds gain an appreciation for their own country and culture. With these benefits in mind, educators and parents need to consider how to connect their students with meaningful experiences throughout their school year.
Divergent Experiences and Outcomes
Accredited schools must provide meaningful experiences for all of their students. Key factors in meaningful learning include providing a wide variety of high-quality instructional methods, demonstrating a commitment to outcomes-driven instruction, giving students the freedom to demonstrate achievement on their own terms, and using appropriate instructional methods for each learner.
“It is critical that we provide students with a wide variety of opportunities, whether they are taking written, spoken, and tangible tests or drawing vibrant artwork or solving three-dimensional physical puzzles,” says Dr. Jason Murray, Associate Director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). “This holistic approach builds critical developmental skills for young students and fosters critical thinking, problem solving, and academic rigor, all key components in a thorough, rich, and meaningful education experience.”
Gathering in Students’ Room
Transitions and face-to-face learning can provide an effective lens for learning by allowing students to witness and reflect on the experiences of other students. Modeling and experiencing other learners, classrooms, and objects in their own environment also provides examples to students that demonstrate behaviors and outcomes that can be applied throughout their life. Through critical thinking and conceptual thinking, students gain a deeper sense of meaning and understanding about themselves, what it means to have more experience, and where they are going. Whether students are taking a basic understanding course or exploring an advanced topic, students have the chance to connect the dots in more meaningful ways. Students who are placed in an immersion classroom, are placed with students with a variety of personal and academic life experiences, as well as a completely different interest level, offer a unique vantage point that allows them to provide a constructive critique of themselves, their work, and their peers.
Building a Meaningful Learning Community
Members of a learning community experience the changes occurring in the classroom and challenges the school and its staff members. By modeling real world situations and discussing the ways they could be improved, learning communities develop the scaffolding necessary to effectively engage students in taking independent and representative actions. For example, a learning community discusses and looks at best practices and can create a collective appreciation for possible interventions to improve children’s classroom experiences. Groups are vital to effective school cultures and common goals.
Flexible Longer Days and Bedtimes
One approach for reaching all learners is to provide flexibility in the school day and year, which will provide students with opportunities to use tools to develop novel, innovative, and creative skills and experiences. Flexible learning days and end dates that meet students’ need for time are also critical for enhancing learning outcomes and building meaningful relationships with the community. Offering parents scheduling options will also help promote family-school involvement and will be helpful in acclimating new students to school traditions. Continually re-assessing what kids are learning and having them return to school prepared and on task will enable them to learn and enjoy their school experience.
Organizing Different Settings
Using a diverse range of learning opportunities will also create greater opportunities for students to spend time participating in authentic projects that demonstrate real-world experiences they will need in the workforce. Students develop these skills by doing tasks such as collaboration, essay writing, and writing presentations and presentations. By using the different learning experiences and by having kids apply their own interests, we can build even stronger relationships.
Inviting-In Kids and Adults
Providing opportunities for students and adults to talk is also important. For instance, talking with students about their personal stories and opinions could enrich their interactions with students and adults and help them to show more commitment to their learning and learning communities. It is also a great way to gain feedback, engagement, and insight on how students are doing.