Student-Centered Instruction: A Portfolio - Summer Learning Collaborative

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Student-Centered Instruction: A Portfolio

SummerCollab’s curriculum dispels of the notion of “the right answer.” At the beginning of every class, students receive a challenge, an open-ended one, one that can be solved in a variety of ways. Our lesson plans do not prescribe solutions that our students must reach. Instead, they propose possible “Guiding Questions” that instructors might ask them when they hit a roadblock.

Students need to be able to think for themselves. They need to be able to overcome obstacles either by persevering on their own or through a collaboration with their peers. As such, our Teacher Counselors act not as content experts, but thought partners. We ask our Teacher Counselors to put the student at the center of each lesson. But to do this, one must be able to think like a student. They have to internalize what it feels like to sit in front of a problem without an answer. Through this empathic approach, instructors generate authentic Guiding Questions, opening an exchange of ideas that directs students toward a solution without supplying one.

Megan Kammer is a Teacher Counselor at Kingswood Community Center. In this portfolio, you will see Megan engaging with one of her students during instructional time. The challenge: create a model of a food-chain using styrofoam cups and drawing tools. Each cup should bear a drawing and the name of an animal. Students must then stack their cups in the order that their food chain follows. This series of photographs clearly illustrates what it looks like when an instructor and a student are engaged in an exchange of ideas. This is what it looks like when an instructor thinks like a student.