Creating Responsive Storylines For Student-Driven Science Learning
How do you create storylines that balance flexibility and responsiveness with planning ahead and meeting the standards? How do you give students a voice, give students agency in your classroom, while still having your game plan for moving students forward? How do you make student-driven learning work… in today’s education system?
Both Sides Of Student-Driven Learning
Quick story >> my husband was telling me about an argument his friend and his friend’s sister-in-law were having about their upcoming wedding. While my husband was very much on his friend’s “side,” I couldn’t quite help myself from voicing some alternative perspectives. My husband (who didn’t really care about the friend’s argument anyway) got a little annoyed with me and told me he didn’t get why I “always played devil’s advocate” — especially when it was someone else’s argument and something neither him nor I actually cared about!
But I wasn’t playing devil’s advocate — I just can’t help but see the other perspective, the other side of the spectrum.
And here’s the point: I’ve felt this way about three-dimensional, phenomenon-based curriculum for a while.
Over the past few years, I’ve been designing storylines and creating resources. Teachers need ready-to-go materials. Students need to “meet the standards.” Yet even while I was putting these out into the world, the whole idea of developing one-path-fits-all curriculum for teachers and students didn’t feel quite right.
>> How is it actually student-driven if I have everything mapped out ahead of time? Was creating an illusion of student agency my goal? Wasn’t it actually about developing a student-owned experience? Doesn’t engagement have to be authentic?
And yet on the other hand, again: most teachers don’t have time to create it all from scratch. These standards are new and different and frankly, kind of tricky to master. And no one has enough prep time, period. Teachers need practical, tangible, ready-to-go resources…
So how do you balance the two?
Storyline Pathways are that middle-road between the canned-curriculum storylines (where it’s all mapped out ahead of time and there’s no room for student response!) and “wingin’ it” (where you’re lucky if you make it to your learning targets and you’re up till midnight planning out the next day’s lesson). Storyline Pathways are about choosing the right phenomenon for your content standards, creating an effective Anchor Experience that launches a journey you want to go on, and identifying the different roads you could travel to get you where you want to be.
I’ll say it again (and again and again): You can plan ahead and stay responsive.
No more “planning Tuesday’s lesson Monday night” or “Wednesday morning supply-closet raids for Wednesday afternoon classes” (you know, to get everything you didn’t know you would need and sure hope is in there!). You can know where it’s going and the roads you will take, and yet still give your students the voice to say, “And this is where we will start, and here is where we will go next.”
But planning for storyline pathways is different than planning your typical unit.
Planning Storylines For Student-Driven Learning
Student-driven learning starts with a SPARK. What if you could reimagine your science curriculum and empower your students to own their 3D learning? You know there is more to science class than textbook facts, recipe-book labs, and one-size-fits all curriculum. You know learning doesn’t look the same for every student. You know the greatest teachers are responsive, and the greatest learning happens when students are engaged…
But it’s hard to put all of that into practice.
And do it without being the first to arrive, the last to leave, and spending every weekend at the local coffee shop.
Spark Science was designed to empower you to implement a student-driven curriculum unique to the needs of your classroom.