Providing students with choices based on skills.

Description of the idea

The project builds on earlier ideas such as Brad Flickinger’s ‘Bored to Badges’ and David Thornburg’s ‘Campfires in Hyperspace’. The ‘Bored to Badges’ programme was a self-taught skills based programme through which students proved their personal competency with tech skills allowing them to choose different applications for submitting work, in other words differentiation based on skills competencies. Thornberg’s approach is more focussed on learning spaces but the idea here is similar, students prove learning skills competencies in working in different settings. Students who can work effectively (satisfactorily meet expectations) in supervised classroom and group work settings can progress to more independent settings.

The project can be carried out in any setting in any part of the world. It basically requires a skills based programme leading to competency self certification (collaborated self-assessment) in a variety of areas, for example music maker (Garageband certification – or similar app), movie maker (imovie certification – or similar), Team leader, Team player, Independent investigator, etc.

What would we see happening in schools when the project is implemented?

A great deal of flipped learning with pre designed skills modules being followed independently by students in their own time but being applied to tailoring their studies to their own interests and skills. Imaginge 4 grade 3 groups each starting a unit with a particular introduction, each one unique but forming part of the complete picture, the students then discuss what they heard/learnt, those requiring more information or reinforcement could attend the same or an additional session, others may prefer to press on with the information they have, providing they are certified as competent independent learners. Students would move on to working in small class based (teacher supported) groups or independent work groups (working outside the classroom) and eventually they would work on individual or collective reports for presentation/publication (the Mountain Top in Thornberg language)

Other considerations

Choice based on skills is actually the forerunner and foundation for choice built on progress since learners are able to progress at their own pace. With this approach it is completely conceivable to have students completing an annual programme within 6 months and moving on to the next level within the same classroom. The project is rooted in student self-assessment and learner autonomy. The teacher provides the structure for independent, self-paced learning whilst having the time to provide scaffolding for learners who require more support.