Different learning environments can be created in the classroom to help students learn better. Assessment-centered and community-centered environments can impact learners. Create Effective, Positive Learning Environments in Your Classroom.
How People Learn
Teachers are encouraged to explore and create several different learning environments to meet the needs of their students and promote active learning. In addition to knowledge and student-centered environments, they describe the following:
Students need to be given opportunities to continually improve their skills and demonstrate knowledge; this can be accomplished through regular teacher feedback and encouragement to revise “final” products, whether they are projects, writing products, and perhaps even mid-unit tests.
Benefits of Formative Assessments and Feedback
Although both formative and summative assessments are necessary, try expanding opportunities for more formative types of assessment which gauge students’ understanding of a concept mid-stream. This can be in the form of individual student conferences, where the student may represent a cooperative group with whom he is working. Other types of formative assessment can include student portfolios that showcase a student’s progress throughout the year, teacher written comments on writing assignments, or class discussions where students are asked to explain the reasons which support the answers they share with the class.
There are several aspects of community: the classroom as a community, the school as a community and the larger community. Teachers can establish either a competitive or cooperative tone in the community of the classroom, so be cautious. Important questions educators can ask themselves include:
- Are my students afraid to get an answer wrong during class discussion?
- Are they overly concerned about making a mistake?
- Do my students feel encouraged to help each other?
- Do I have the same expectations of success for all my students? Do I consider cultural differences of my students in regards to class participation?
Answering these questions will encourage teachers to reflect on the sense of community they create in their own classrooms.
Learning Environments are Interconnected
When teachers heighten students’ awareness of the interconnection of different aspects in their lives, students will better understand the world around them. For instance, teachers can relate lessons to experiences students have in their greater communities, including their homes, community centers, after-school programs and neighborhood businesses. Students must understand that learning does not end outside the classroom. To assist in this realization, teachers can invite community members into the classroom to create a unified sense of purpose for the class.
Help Students Make Connections
Learning goals need to be aligned with what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed (both formatively and summatively). When students understand that there is a purpose to what they are learning and that every aspect of their lives somehow relates to each other, they develop intrinsic motivation and self-propelled curiosity which can only enhance their classroom experience.
Students need structure, boundaries, and high expectations. Within that as well, they need a teacher who believes in them, cares about them, and creates an atmosphere in the classroom where every student feels important and respected.