How to Take Learning into Your Own Hands

 In Semandi’s “When Teachers Drive Their Learning,” he discusses how in rural Wyoming, the teachers are allowed the option of selecting an area of teaching that they most want to grow in and the school rewards them for improving his or her teaching skills. This method of teaching is called Fusion and it creates a school culture that promotes risk-taking and collegiality.


When I read this article, I certainly thought that this was an interesting teaching/learning method and it certainly has its merits. I wondered why other schools don’t implement this strategy? The point of this method is that teachers can identify their classroom weaknesses and take classes that will improve the learning style of the group. The example given in the text was Rosina, a 5th grade teacher:

The third week of September, the teacher facilitator in Rosina’s school hands out a list of best practices ranging from establishing classroom rules to implementing a writing program the district has adopted. Rosina looks over the list. Her students struggle with reading compre­hension, so she puts rule-based summarizing (Marzano, Norford, Paynter, Pick­ering, &rGaddy, 2001) at the top of her list, along with two other practices. She soon receives a message from her teacher facilitator with the names of teachers in her study group, a schedule of meetings, and a 25-page assignment to read in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works (Marzano et al., 2001) before the first group session. Three weeks later, students are released from school an hour early, and all teachers who are participating in Fusion meet with a study group. Then they exchange ideas about what is, and is not, working in their classrooms, commiserating on the tips and downs of leaching. Many teachers become teacher experts in particular strategies and act as mentors to others within their school that wants to learn the strategy. (The teacher facilitator responsible for Fusion determines which teachers is consid­ered experts at a particular strategy and keeps a list of these teacher mentors.) Rosina consults an online schedule to find out when various teacher experts are demonstrating target strategies and signs up to observe Stephen, a colleague, later in the week. As she watches Stephen model rule- of samples of how she’s applied rule- based summarizing). Rosina then receives a small stipend matched to the strategy’s level of difficulty.

This is something a lot more schools should be participating in. this allows the teacher to identify where the class is weak, a provides access to resources so that they may strengthen the class, and allow them to actually learn, instead of promoting the child without making sure they fully comprehend the material.


In Fontichiaro’s (Hey Kristin!) “Planning an Online Professional Development Module,” she discusses methods on adults learning for their own professional development. Like Semandi, this article focuses on adults taking their learning/professional development into their own hands. I appreciated how this article found information relevant to her area of expertise, but she customized it for her and her colleague’s experiences and shared it with them. Often times, valuable and wonderful information is discovered but it can be bogged down with irrelevant information. Fontichiaro cut the fat and only left the pertinent information to be passed along to her colleagues.