Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Student-Centered Classroom

Jones, L. (2007) The Student-Centered Classroom. New York, New York : Cambridge University Press

This article discussed the student-centered approach as an effective, motivating, and enjoyable approach to education. This booklet's goal was to discuss how this approach can be implemented and illustrates problems that may arise. Jones provides examples of how to implement a classroom that supports students in effective discussions and collaboration. However, his article mainly focuses on how to support an English speaking class and how to promote fluency and accuracy in student dialogue. This article doesn't provide examples on how students can lead the class or have voice and choice in their endeavors. Rather, it focuses on how student discussion and group work can be fostered and how teachers can be facilitators of the dialogue.

Quote & Question:
"We may also need to persuade them that, yes, they really do have enough knowledge to be able to carry on a conversation in English." (p. 6)

"It is important that all the groups speak English, not just the more motivated ones." (p.6)

This article was very focused on the importance of students using English only in classroom discussions. Throughout the article, Jones stressed how crucial it was to remind students to speak English and to monitor if students were speaking in their native tongue. Ironically, Jones also described the importance of fostering student discussions and the benefits of dialogue amongst students. If the goal of a student-centered classroom is to help students share ideas and contribute those to the betterment of the whole class, then should students be allowed to speak in their native tongue? If sharing ideas in a native language promotes discussion, then shouldn't it be encouraged? This makes me wonder about the objective of this article, whether it is to promote a student-centered approach in an English only environment or whether to promote a student-centered approach where students have voice and choice in their learning.

"Students need to be taught techniques to bring out others and encourage them to say more or expand on their ideas - for example, with follow up questions such as Why do you think that? Can you give me an example? or encouraging phrases such as Tell me some more. Go on. That's interesting." (p. 9)

"Students need to be armed with suitable ways of reacting to one another in English...supportive body language are important, but they also need to know expressions.." (p.14)

In order to have a student-centered classroom, Jones emphasizes the importance of supporting students in dialogue. This can be conducted through providing sentence starters, or models of good questions. I enjoyed this as a method to support student voice and provide access to students. As a teacher, facilitating students by encouraging them to use various expressions will help build their confidence to articulate their thoughts.

I was surprised at what the article entailed as I had expecting something entirely different. I enjoyed the ways Jones provided methods for supporting dialogue in the classroom, eliciting motivation and managing group work. However, all of his arguments had no research or data to support them. Furthermore, the article was very focused on supporting students in the English language. When thinking about a student-centered approach, I had thought the article would have findings on how to support students throughout the day in leading the activities, and also how to create lessons that elicit student voice, choice and autonomy.

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