Some educators who have taught the same curricula for many years may have trouble changing their teaching methods, but the film Most Likely To Succeed, focuses on the topic of reforming education to be more student-centred. This documentary examines the use of student voice in education. One of the classrooms shown in this documentary has students conduct a project of their choice (individually or in groups) and display their finished product at the end of the term. Their parents and peers have the opportunity to assess their work rather than being graded by one teacher. Students had creative freedom with their projects but were more accountable because many people would see their work. Some students did not complete their projects, but were not reprimanded or penalized; rather they spoke with the teacher and class about what could have helped them succeed. This along with the natural consequence of not having a piece to display at the presentation night helped them to learn from their mistakes. Giving the students this responsibility allowed them to learn, maybe more than they would have if the teacher had directed the project or forced the students to present. The second class put on two plays, one by the boys which was historically accurate (in certain aspects) and another by the girls who put a modern spin on the play and set it in Pakistan to bring awareness to current global issues. The film followed the girls’ play more closely than the boys’, and how it was directed by a student. I like this strategy because it helped that student to gain her voice and confidence within the class. These plays allowed for students’ expression and involvement and made a greek play palatable to the class. While it was not entirely student-run, I think this is a practical way to teach foundational material in a learner-centred classroom.
From my observation, the classes in High Tech High used learning plans rather than lesson plans, meaning that they taught with a more student-centred mindset. This is positive because learning plans are more flexible in the teaching style whereas a lesson plan is often taught command-style where teachers are standing before a large group of students giving instructions. I think learning plans can fit the Universal Design for Learning more readily than lesson plans do because they provide a more general guideline than the rigid instructions lesson plans do. Learning plans are also more practical as they integrate different subject areas into the material. This makes them more relevant to students’ lives, therefore giving them a higher probability of retaining the information and being able to apply it.
Most Likely To Succeed (accessed through University of Victoria database):