By Melissa Elliott
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. –Benjamin Franklin
What better statement than this to capture what we are trying to do, involving students in the learning process. I know when I was in college “learning” was a passive exercise. Most of my classes were in a “sage on the stage” format where my professor lectured for a couple of hours and then we were left to put some kind of understanding to the material presented in class. Flash cards and study groups, peer tutors and visits to the learning lab. The student was often an afterthought in the learning process.
Involving the student in the learning process gives value to the material being learned. It’s like you give your child money. They go and spend it without thought; they know there is always more where that came from. But if your child has to earn that money, they hopefully spend it more wisely because that have a stake in where it came from and they have an appreciation for the work it took to make it. Involving students in their own learning gives them an appreciation for the work achieved.
AVID’s philosophy is “Hold students accountable to the highest standards,provide academic and social support,and they will rise to the challenge” (avid.org). Involving students in the learning process is at the core of the AVID strategies; whether using a quick writes, think/pair/ share, concept mapping or Cornell notes. Each of these strategies gets the student thinking about what they have just heard. Participating in these activities gives them ownership of the material they have put away in their brain. What can be better than that? This is learning that is theirs forever! Using this kind of teaching/learning in the foundational classes that we teach can only prepare our students for success. AVID doesn’t have to take over the classroom, but adding a quick write here or a muddiest point their helps the student know what they know and where they need to improve.
I would like to think that it is that easy, but we have to start somewhere. Giving our students ownership puts the keys to their success in their hands. It’s up to them.