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CityNews: GTA school adopts "Self-Directed Learning" Program

CityNews reporter Stella Acquisto speaks with students at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School about a new program being adopted by the school in September called self-directed learning.

This is a programme that Mary Ward CHS has been using for years ... it's gaining greater attention and respect and now other high schools are attempting to implement it.

Here at Epiphany, in order to better prepare our students for their continued learning, we also gear our teaching in some respects in our Intermediate division utilizing a blended Self-Directed Learning model.

What is Self-Directed Learning (SDL)?

Self-directed learning (SDL) involves initiating personally challenging activities and developing personal knowledge and skills to pursue the challenges successfully (Gibbons, 2002).

For students engaged in self-directed learning, there will be:

  • Ownership of Learning
  • Management and Monitoring of Own Learning
  • Extension of Own Learning

A char about Self-Directed learning - there is a pie chart with three portions that says Ownership of Learning, Extension of Own Learning, and Management and Monitoring of Own Learning. From Ownership of Learning the points are Articulate learning gaps, and Set learning goals and identify learning tasks to achieve the goals. From Extension of Own Learning the points are Apply learning in new contexts and Learn beyond the curriculum. From Management and Monitoring of Own Learning the points are Explore alternatives and make sound decisions, Formulate questions and generate own inquiries, Plan and manage workload and time effectively and efficiently, and Reflect on their learning and use feedback to improve their schoolwork 

What are some indicators of SDL?

Students who are self-directed learners might display some of the following behaviours:

Construct 1: Ownership of Learning

1. Student sets learning targets for himself/herself.

Construct 2: Management and Monitoring of Own Learning

2. Student knows which parts of the lessons he/she does not understand.
3. Student asks questions when he/she is not sure about the lessons.
4. Student looks for more information to help understand the lessons better.
5. Student makes a list of what he/she needs to do for his/her learning.
6. Student completes his/her schoolwork on time.
7. Student tries to understand where it went wrong in schoolwork.
8. Student tries different ways to solve problems on his/her own.

Construct 3: Extension of Own Learning

9. Student uses what he/she learns in class after his/her lessons.
10. Student finds out more than what teachers teach in school.
11. Student uses the computer to:
- go online to ask people outside the school for ideas on lessons;
- become better at a skill that he/she is interested in;
- get ideas from different websites and people to learn more about a topic.

Right and Wrong Answers: What do you want kids to do with technology?

Bill Ferriter is a Teacher, Blogger, Author, and a Professional Development Provider and he created the graphic below to remind us how important technology in the classroom is.

Graphic about What do you want kids to do with technology? The chart presents a list of both wrong answers and right answrs. Wrong answers list: Make prezis, Start blogs, Create wordles, Publish animotos, Design flipcharts, Produce videos, Post to Edmodo, Use whiteboard, Develop apps. Right answers list: Raise answers, Start conversations, Find answers (to their questions), Join partners, Change minds, Make a difference, Take action, Drive change.Below the list is the text Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome. 

The Primary Common Room

Inquiry model cycle which has four steps that are Plan, Act, Observe, Reflect, and then looping back to Plan.
This is a room that our youngest students asked for and our partner RCTO helped us to bring it to reality! So, we did what we could (reflected on what we had; planned and defined what we wanted; we acted by opening up the possibilities, dreamt what could be, drew it, raised money for it, found stakeholders to help out ... and we're delivering the goods). Now, we'll observe its use debrief later to see how it goes. If it's anything like our SCL upstairs, it promises to be great!
The PCR (est. January 2014)

The Student Computer Lounge

Photo of the computer lounge with computer terminals alone the wall, and tables with flower pieces on each table, and empty chairs around each table.
Click the links below for virtual tours of the SCL in progress as it appears as of Jan. 2013. We dreamt it and we built it!

The aim was for the SCL to be operational by March 2013 and completed by Janurary 2014 in its full glory.

With the efforts of long-time partner RCTO, the SCL now houses 30 wireless desktops running Windows 7, science materials, comfy chairs, bean bags, pop posters, soft lighting,round tables for collaoration and creativity, and some music to make feel like home. It is also be the hub for clubs at lunch - like chess. Amazing how the neXT teacher in 21st century education is the "setting". Students co-creating with the school and community partners is definitely the way to go. For now, the foosball table and the cappuccino machine will have to wait. Nonetheless, the ideas the students have are boundless and worthy of exploration.
The SCL (est. November 2012)

DEFINE ... DISCOVER ... DREAM ...DESIGN ... DELIVER ... DEBRIEF - This is our path from vision to reality!

Renewed Computer Technology (RCTO)

RCT Renewed Computer Technology logo
RCT is licensed by Industry Canada to operate the Computers for Schools program in Ontario. Computers for Schools, co-founded in 1993 by Industry Canada and the TelecomPioneers, refurbishes computers and related equipment donated by governments and businesses. These computers are distributed across Canada to schools, libraries and registered not-for-profit learning organizations.