Student Driven Curriculum

Everyone wants students to “own” their learning. It is in the latest books. It gets bounced around at staff and leadership meetings. I have set through countless PD sessions where describing students graphing their data and growth. It sounds great, and I have tried to make this happen, but my attempts have fallen flat. Either I couldn’t get student buy-in, or my projects were too rigid, or I was just too controlling of my facility and curriculum.

Last year I watched my colleague Chis Ludwig allow students to design a “Phunsics” course. The students identified the learning targets, then set about learning them. The environment fostered student excitement and yielded student learning. It seemed like a great fit for my classroom, but I would have to let things get messy to accomplish the learning similar to the Phunsics students. The mess has begun, and it is glorious.

Starting with my Advanced Art students, we as a group compiled all of the media we could use to produce art. The first project assigned was to create an imaginary animal. The students now have the choice of media, from our list, to create this project. In the next week or so, the students will begin to finalize the learning targets for media. How many painting projects should be required during the year? How many drawings? How many 3D? In this way they students can meet the Colorado State Standard 3.1 to demonstrate new and traditional media.

The best part so far is that the students are excited to “own” their own learning. Last year, in the same course I laid some groundwork for having student driven critiques. That will the next step. By the end of the year, I want my students to choose the direction of their projects, lead group critiques, and track their own progress by posting examples of their work.

We are off to a good start.


About Mr. Miller

I teach Visual Arts in La Junta, Colorado. I am also an artist and printmaker. But more importantly, I am a husband and father to a beautiful and inspiring family.
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