What Does Student Ownership Look Like - Kingswood Oxford

Big Thinkers Blog

August 23, 2019

What Does Student Ownership Look Like

Jackie Pisani, Director of Marketing and Communications


No one loves buzz words more than schools. Educators may use pedagogical phrases that they assume parents understand which may often stifle parents to ask questions because the vocabulary is a novel one to them.


Student ownership is one of those phrases in heavy rotation.


What does it mean?

Quite simply, ownership to learning means that a learner is motivated, engaged and self-directed. A student can monitor their own progress and is able to reflect on his or her learning based on mastery of content according to educator Kathleen McClaskey. 

What does student ownership look like at KO?


Take Middle School math teacher Stacey Tomkeil’s approach to gauge students’ understanding of the important parts of a parabola like the maximum point, line of symmetry, and the x and y-intercepts. Instead of scheduling a test, Tomkeil offered the students to work on a self-designed project covering the topic.


“Students are more committed to the assignment. They can express it in a way that they are comfortable instead of me saying ‘You have to take a test.’ They usually do more for me than what I had asked. And, an additional benefit in assignments like these is I also get to see their personality, too,” said Tomkeil.


Tomkeil gave the students the choice to work on their projects independently or collaboratively and established some parameters. By leaving the assignment open-ended, Tomkeil found the students were having more conversations about the math itself. She checked their work along the way to make sure they were working in-depth, and the feedback she gave to her students allowed them to strategize, adjust and rethink their approach.

Technology has expanded the number of creative resources available to students and permits them to play to their strengths and truly make the work their own. Some students opted to use video, another group created a pop-up book, another produced a Google form incorporating pictures. Students shared their assignments on a padlet, an online virtual “bulletin” board, where students and teachers can collaborate, reflect, share links and pictures, in a secure location. 


Freeing the students in this manner enables them to become active participants in their own learning. They are learning how to learn.


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