Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Learning Menu: A Path Toward Independent Learning

Example of a Monday - Friday Math Learning Menu
For years, our team has been using learning menus to guide students' independent learning. These menus foster apt student decision making and skill/knowledge building related to their learning. The menus also buy teachers who work with large groups of children time to coach small groups and individual students.

The use of these learning menus has helped our recent move to remote learning. As I continue to work with these menus, particularly in the virtual sphere, I am reminded about the best ways to create and introduce these menus to young students.

Menu Creation
It is important to invest a good deal of time up front when it comes to creating helpful learning menus. It is important that the menu is streamlined, easy to follow, and easy to access. Our team places the main learning menus on our grade-level website. That makes the learning menus easy to access for all members of the learning community including students, family members, and educators.

The menu is best when it includes only the most important words and links. It's best to use the concept of nesting when creating these menus which is a process where the main concept is on the menu and as the child works through that concept, he or she uses scaffolded links to travel the concept into deeper, more detailed, and perhaps more challenging content.

Menu Practice
Clearly, after months of using these menus, many students are adept at reading and utilizing the menus, but there are a few who still are having trouble reading and using these menus. This tells me that I didn't make enough time up front to teach students how to use the menus. Next year I will provide more practice with this skill to give every child the chance to learn how to use the menus successfully.

Menu Updates
It is good to update the menus on a regular basis to keep the menu relevant and inviting.

Student Input and Interaction
The menus should invite student input and interaction. Children could become good at this by having the chance to make up their own menus for study.

As we work with "virtual school" I'll continue to think about how to better our use of student-centered learning menus, menus which guide students' independent learning in multiple ways.