In an effort to be more student-centered, I decided to see how long I could go without speaking to the whole class at once. Instead, I posted all instructions and spent my time coming alongside individuals and interacting with groups of students. So far the results have been incredibly positive and there have been many revelations along the way.
So far I have found that…
Students Really Can Teach Themselves
Today I gave a staple assignment covering all the parts of speech, various sentence types and many other basics of English grammar. In the past I usually took two days to “go over” everything on the assignment and we would do it together (i.e. I would write my answers up on the board and the students would copy it down.
However, since I have made the commitment not to address the class, any type of whole class direct instruction was out of the question. So, I simply instructed the class to do the assignment. I provided a resource and instructed the students to ask each other or Google the answer. I have to admit, I was quite unsure about how the class would respond. I made my usual rounds and gave instruction here and there and soon the students started bringing me their assignments for me to check. I was actually surprised to see a fair amount of students giving perfect examples of compound and complex sentences, appropriate semicolon use and grammatically correct lines of dialogue.
The students were getting it right, on their own, largely without my help or direct instruction. Plus, my time was better spent giving each student on the spot, individualized feedback. There are many things that students can simply teach themselves and each other if given the opportunity.