Keeping students engaged is a classroom concern educators know all too well. An exciting and fun way to mix things up a little is to let the students take the lead!
A good classroom is student-centered already, right? So hand over the reins (well..after some excellent modeling of course) and let them lead the way!
Three of my favorite go-to sources for all thing ed-inspired are Cult of Pedagogy, Edutopia and Caitlin Tucker’s education blog ( I love listening to the podcast version of Cult of Pedagogy during my commutes to work and school, multitasking at its finest!)
A recent post from Cult of Pedagogy discussed the idea of curating as a higher-level project that keeps students engaged. A rigorous project that students enjoy? YES PLEASE! This idea really resonated with me, because I recently did a project-based learning unit withy my 8th grade English students, where students worked in groups to propose a design for a new school. They proposed ideas ranging from lighting, seating, instructional techniques, food and class size. They could choose any features they wanted to implement in the new school as long as there was research to support their suggestions. Completely impressed and inspired by the research they were finding and collecting, I felt like it was a missed opportunity to not be able to sit in this phase of the project for a bit longer and share these articles and findings with the whole class. So this idea of curating as a self-directed learning project was really a wonderful idea to learn about!
What exactly is curating?
The article’s author, Jennifer Gonzalez, breaks it down very nicely! But basically curating is the choosing, organizing and analyzing a collection. Think of museum curators, fashion buyers, even YOU when you playing around on your Pinterest board! Curating goes beyond just choosing what you like or picking out things, curating involves research, developing ideas and refining your vision.
How can I utilize curating in my classroom?
Elink is my favorite platform out of all her suggestions because it allows students to add writing to the project which keeps the rigor high and give them the opportunity to add thoughtful and meaningful explanations to why they chose what they chose.
Such a great platform to use for this kind of project because it is straightforward and easy to use, and students can share the link with anyone!
A link to the actual project: https://elink.io/p/free-speech-a-range-of-interpretations Source: Cult of Pedagogy
So you are seeing the what and how using curation as student-centered learning task, but still not convinced on the why?
Recently Edutopia had a post, How to Put Self-Directed Learning to Work in Your Classroom, which highlighted the benefits and the power of providing opportunities for students to take the lead in the classroom. A big takeaway from this post for me was how the process of self-directing learning can teach students responsibility and open their minds to new experiences. Additionally, it maintains their curiosity for new topics and concepts, keeping the stakes high enough so they’ll be coming back for more! Having students work on a project like curating easily fosters all those great results that come from self-directed learning.
Check out this video to get even more info on self-directed learning! Source: youtube.com Camp Stomping Ground
Caitlyn Tucker also had a great post on this idea of letting students take charge of their learning. She discusses the ups and the downs of the project, but overall what she learned most from the project, was watching her students struggle with their concepts, work through the complications of the project and successfully complete a finished product.
Here are the highlights of why curation is the next best thing for self-directed learners!