A Two-Track-Option Approach to Teaching and Learning

It’s a boring post title, I know. But here’s the thing: I think it’s a great idea.

What’s the idea? I’m glad you asked.

In short, we can give students most comfortable with predictability and control over tight scheduling one track/option that suits their needs, and we can give students who prefer a flexible, thinking-skill-driven, personalized learning experience that choice as a second track.

It’s not that Track 1 isn’t personalized and Track 2 is personalized. It’s just that Track 2 is more personalized.

I’m not going to beat around the bush.

Here’s the syllabus I ran with last semester at my college teaching gig. I built a warehouse of curated resources across the content I was teaching, and I let students choose what we’d talk about in the first hour or so of each week’s class meeting. (This changed to be even more personalized when we went to online learning in March.)

Here’s the skill-tracking chart that students and I filled in together through conferences and evidence produced by students under my guidance and alongside examples I provided.

I should note:

(1) In conference and with guidance, students on Track 2 designed their own final projects. (These didn’t have to be traditional papers. By that point in the semester, they had written plenty to be proficient in that skill area as required by the university’s writing requirements.)

(2) Students on Track 2 assigned themselves grades based on reflections that I guided at the end of the semester and with a clear understanding of what the skill levels meant for their own progress. Each student was measured against their own baselines rather than some imaginary and arbitrary standard I had in my head. (One of the biggest mistakes I made as a younger, newer teacher was to assess students based on what I wanted them to be when they got to my class rather than where they got to by attending my class and working on their skills and understandings. That was not good pedagogy.)

I could spend several thousand words describing these two documents. Rather than wasting your time trying to hit on what I think is important, I’ll let you lead me. Please leave feedback and ask questions, and I’ll address them as they come in by editing this post.

About Steve Capone

Writer hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah. Interdisciplinary teacher (read: generalist guiding inquiry) at an independent school. Adjunct instructor at a medium sized state school. Lover of learning. Favorite destination: Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany. @CaponeTeaches on Twitter M.S. Philosophy (Univ. of Utah 2013) M.A. Humanities (Univ. of Chicago 2007) B.A. Philosophy & English (Washington & Jefferson College 2006
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2 Responses to A Two-Track-Option Approach to Teaching and Learning

  1. Pingback: How to REALLY be Prepared for the 2020-2021 School Year | #CaponeTeaches

  2. Pingback: The 8-Bit Instructor: Grading with Steve Capone (EP007) – The 8-Bit Instructor

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