The Self-Directed Learning Handbook: Challenging Adolescent Students to Excel (Google eBook)

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John Wiley & Sons, Feb 17, 2003 - Education - 208 pages
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The Self-Directed Learning Handbook offers teachers and principals an innovative program for customizing schooling to the learning needs of individual students— and for motivating them to take increasing responsibility for deciding what and how they should learn. Whether the students are struggling or proficient, the program is designed to nurture their natural passion for learning and mastery, challenging them to go beyond the easy and familiar so they can truly excel. The program can be introduced in stages in any middle or high school classroom and enables students of diverse abilities to design and pursue independent course work, special projects, or even artistic presentations, community field work or apprenticeships. Using this approach, the students take on an increasingly autonomous, self-directed role as they progress. The heart of the program is the action contract (or learning agreement) whereby the student sets challenging yet attainable goals, commits to a path for achieving them, and evaluates the results. Special emphasis is placed on developing skills and competencies that can serve the student well in his or her academic and career endeavors.
The Self-Directed Learning Handbook presents a comprehensive, practical framework for introducing self-directed learning approaches in the classroom, showing educators how to:
  • Translate conventional curricula into discrete outcomes allowing students to devise individualized approaches to their course work
  • Design engaging and powerful classroom lessons
  • Negotiate and structure effective student learning agreements
  • Modify teaching approaches and other classroom practices to encourage self-motivated learning and skill development
  • Encourage student self-assessment of course work and other accomplishments
The book provides sample course units, lessons, contracts, and assessment instruments and features examples from public schools that have successfully implemented self-directed learning programs.


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1 The Case for SelfDirected Learning
2 A Framework for Teaching SDL
3 Rethinking Student Coursework
4 Planning Lessons and Projects
5 Teaching Independent Thinking
6 Negotiating Student Learning Agreements
7 Motivating and Empowering Students
8 Assessing Student Achievement
Resource D The Integrated SDL Unit The Kinds of Activities Involved
Resource E Inner States for SDL
Resource F Sample Process Templates
Resource G Guidelines Traps and Boosters
Resource H The Support Group or Triad
Resource I Samples from a Students Working Journal
Resource J Some of the Many Ways Students Can Learn

9 Pursuing a Path of Excellence
Resource A How Much SDL Are You Teaching Now?
Resource B How SelfDirecting Are You? A SelfAssessment Instrument
Resource C The Passage Process
The Author

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About the author (2003)

Maurice Gibbons is education professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia and a former teacher of grades 4 through 13. In his university position he specialized in the development of innovative educational programs, including the internationally celebrated Walkabout program for the transition of youth to adulthood. He has written books and journal articles on innovative education and self-directed learning and currently speaks and consults throughout Canada and the United States Contact Self-Directed Learning at

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