I am currently pursuing an Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology, and one of the big buzz words which is being thrown around is student centered learning. Some components of a student centered classroom are:
- Student-explorer, teacher-facilitator environment. The student is in control of his/her own learning, while the teacher acts as a guide for students. In many cases, the teacher is also acting as an explorer along with the students.
- The student has choice in his/her own learning in terms of what to explore.
- The student shares what he/she has learned to the community.
In many instances, teachers are now required to justify how their classrooms are student-centered. If you do not wish to employ Genius Hour or project-based learning (PBL) or are not prepared yet to turn your classroom into a 21st century, collaborative, blended-learning environment, a simple student-centered, CI-based strategy to implement is a FVR/SSR time (Free Voluntary Reading/Silent Sustained Reading) a few times a week with your students.
The idea is simple: set aside a certain amount of time per day/week where students can read whatever they want for pleasure in the target language. The key components of these readings though are that they are both comprehensible and compelling for students. Here are the reasons why FVR/SSR is considered student-centered learning:
- Student-explorer, teacher-facilitator environment. The teacher simply provides choices for what students can read during FVR/SSR. The teacher can offer recommendations but does not assign what to read. Essentially, the choice lies in the hands of the students. The teacher can also model FVR/SSR behavior by reading during this time.
- The student has choice in his/her own learning in terms of what to explore. In FVR/SSR, the student can choose whatever he/she wants to read based on his/her own interests and on the difficulty level of the reading.
- The student shares what he/she has learned to the community. Students can share their recommendations of what they have read with the class. Consider attaching a QR code in the reading which will take students to a Google Form where they can rate what they have read.
To validate how this form of student-centered learning leads to language acquisition, we only need to look to Krashen who states in The Power of Reading (2004):
My conclusions are simple. When children read for pleasure, when they get hooked on books, they acquire involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called language skills many people are so concerned about: They will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style and become good (but not necessarily) perfect spellers.
There are many online resources regarding FVR/SSR time in the CI classroom. Refer to the following blog postings:
Cynthia Hitz – Free Voluntary Reading – PAEF Grant
Martina Bex – Grow Story Grow! Revisited
Mike Peto – On Building our own FVR Libraries
Haiyun Lu – Free Voluntary Reading in Chinese
Kristy Placido – Sustained Silent Reading in Language Class
Carrie Toth – Free Voluntary Reading Area
I have slowly begun to implement a FVR/SSR time in my Latin classes, but due to the paucity of comprehensible, compelling readings for Latin, it has been rather inconsistent. Luckily, Pomegranate Beginnings Publications has published number of CI novellas in the past year. In addition, the forthcoming Brandon Brown Canem Vult by TPRS Publishing is soon to be in print. As more Latin teachers begin to embrace CI, an untapped audience is now emerging.
So if your school is pushing student-centered learning, consider implementing a FVR/SSR time in your classes. It will please your administration without compromising your CI classroom environment.
Keith Toda teaches Latin at Brookwood High School in Snellville, Georgia. He has been teaching for 18 years. He blogs at todallycomprehensiblelatin.blogspot.com and tweets as @silvius_toda. He describes himself as a recovering grammar-translation Latin teacher, and now user of CI/TPRS.