“We’re the ones in the classroom, ask us!” In this video, students share (in their own words) why they should have a voice in what and how they learn.
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Maya stops by Steven's house after school.
"Is this your report card? It has a lot more information than mine does."
Steven's report card is competency-based. He tells Maya that his teachers explain their expectations and describe why he received each grade.
"My report card explains what I learned in each competency and where I need to work harder, so I know how to improve."
This teacher feedback also makes it easier for Steven's parents to support him. Steven's mom explains:
"Ms. G's notes last semester clued us in to some trouble Steven was having in biology. He had to redo one lab, but I like that he has the chance to take extra time to understand the concepts. Steven likes that he can move ahead more quickly in subjects he’s better in."
"Wow! My school has been trying a lot of new stuff like this. I wonder if competency education is next."
Maya's school has student-led parent conferences instead of traditional parent-teacher ones. She presents work from her classes and can talk openly about successes and difficulties.
"I'm proud of my writing assignment analyzing the ending of The Great Gatsby."
"I'm still struggling in geometry, though."
Maya's dad asks:
"What's been difficult about your geometry class?"
Maya says she thinks she understands her teacher's lessons, but when it comes time to apply the concepts, she often gets wrong answers.
Her advisor gives Maya's problem some thought and asks:
"Have you explained to your teacher that this keeps happening?"
After listening to her dad and her advisor, Maya comes up with her own solution to try.
"I'll talk to my teacher this week about how to make geometry work for me."
Maya and her geometry teacher meet after Maya's student-led parent conference. Maya has an idea:
"I think it might help if I could see how geometry is applied in the real world."
Maya thinks of her uncle, a carpenter. Together, Maya and her teacher brainstorm a set of questions. Maya connects with him via Skype.
Maya watches as her uncle explains his models and his designs. Seeing congruence applied in a real world setting helps Maya see the importance of exact measurements.
"I always start by taking the exact measurements of the room where the cabinet will go. I then build congruent scale models of the room and cabinet to see how the cabinet would fit. As long as my models are exact, I'll know my cabinet will fit perfectly."
"I think I understand geometry better now. Can we talk again if I get stuck?"
Maya's classmates are inspired by her work with her uncle and want to try something new too.
"Can we show what we know instead of taking a test?"
"Maybe we could work with my uncle as part of our assessment?"
The students design a short project-based assessment with their teacher that incorporates the key elements of their geometry unit.
In Maya's uncle's workshop, the students examine and measure his scale models and corresponding full-sized cabinets to demonstrate the exact congruence.
Back in their classroom, the students show their teacher that they have mastered the concepts of congruent shapes and the importance of exact measurement in the real world. She is pleased:
"Great job! Getting out of the classroom seems to have deepened your learning. Let's consider more out-of-school learning opportunities."