Building Students Ownership of Learning You Need to Know

True North

Building Students Ownership of Learning

Building Ownership of Learning Image

In their book Partnering with Students, Building Ownership of Learning, Mary Jane O’Connell and Kara Vandas’ goal is to continuously nudge teachers in the proper direction, so that students can firmly take responsibility for their own learning by using the symbol of a compass and its four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

Co-authors Mary Jane O’Connell and Kara Vandas encapsulate the following message regarding True North:

“True North is about empowering students with the wisdom and confidence to exceed expectations throughout their school years and beyond. True North is about instilling an unwavering desire in students to own their learning, as they discover the freedom and responsibility for their choices in learning. Teachers who aim for True North understand deeply that to educate means to draw out one’s potential.”

O’Connell, M., & Vandas, K. (2015). Partnering with students. Corwin,

The compass sign and its four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) are used to represent their goal of continuously pointing educators in the proper direction, so that students can boldly take control of their own learning process and eventually arrive at “true north.” The mission statement, “I empower all students with the wisdom and confidence to exceed expectations,” is found at the core of their diagram, the Teacher’s Internal Compass, and encapsulates this goal.

Partner with Students in Learning

In the article 5 Steps to Partner with Students in Learning, authors Mary Jane O’Connell and Kara Vandas asked: is it possible to have students work alongside teachers to own their learning and reach worthy goals?

O’Connell and Vandas believe students move from being receivers of our knowledge to seekers of their own knowledge as partners in learning. But how, you may ask?

O’Connell and Vandas provided the following:

Examine Our Beliefs: examine beliefs about students’ capability and our own views about allowing and empowering students to own their learning.

Invite Students to be Partners: Teachers must invite students to partners in learning. We must ask, listen, share, ask agreement in establishing new norms and craft a classroom and school environment that allows students to have voice in their own learning.

Let students in on the Learning: Teachers today face great change in the education world, from new standards to new assessments to new evaluation systems. In this time of change, we post two critical questions: Are we clear about what students must learn each year? And more importantly, are our students clear about what they are expected to learn?

Build Learner Capacity: Teachers work to employ strategies within the classroom to make learning more meaningful. Strategies such as Venn Diagram or Cornell notes have become commonplace among teachers. But are students transferring the strategies sed in the classroom into their own toolbox for learning? Teachers must be intentional about asking students to try, reflect, refine, and amass strategies that work for them as learners.

Prove and Celebrate Learning: Encourage students and teachers to take time to prove learning, by reflecting on their learning, by aligning learning goals, as well as their personal goals, with evidence in their own work, monitoring their progress and celebrating their hard work.

These 5 steps are an integral part of building students’ ownership of learning.

Below are the categories for Building Ownership for Learning:

Defining the Journey

Defining Collaborative Relationships for Learning

How do I establish a classroom where learning is a partnership? Strategies Better Collaborative Relationships for Learning

Essential Learnings

How do teachers find clarity in a sea of standards? Clarify the learning progressions within the standards

Criteria For Success

How can teachers translate standards into criteria for success? How to help your students achieve success in 3 steps

Learning on the Journey

Learner Strategies for Life

How do teachers support students in developing learning strategies?

Learning Through Effective Feedback

How can feedback propel learning forward for teachers and students? Success Criteria Effective Feedback You Need to Know

Blog Posts

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