Students thrive in data-driven learning system

HANCOCK — The problem with teaching today, is the profession is practiced in a standardized, cookie-cutter manner, said Ezekiel Ohan, principal for the Hancock middle and high schools.

“If you’ve got things that are already pre-formatted, people can come in and turn from being a teacher to being an instructor,” he said. “Now an instructor can come in and just give you packets or sheets to fill out. And they call that a lesson or a lesson plan.”

Student-centered learning is a growing trend across the United States, and according to the data, it is increasing student achievement.

Teacher-centered learning, the traditional approach to K-12 education, does not take the student as an individual into close enough account, many critics state.

Ohan is among those critics.

Student-centered learning employs a wide variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches and academic support strategies to address distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations or cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students, states Ed Tech Review.

Ohan said it allows the teacher to “meet the children where the children are.”

When a classroom operates with student-centered instruction, students and instructors share the focus. Instead of listening to the teacher exclusively, students and teachers interact equally.

Group work is encouraged, and students learn to collaborate and communicate with one another.

One of the key components to student-centered learning is the use of content action plans.

“The point of the content action plan is the art of discovery,” said Ohan. “It is not to prove the teacher right. It is merely to put into play what the teacher thinks will help the classroom. Then, we unpack it, with something we call a CDR, comprehensive data review.

“Now, we share all of our strategies with our colleagues, to say, ‘I tried a color-coding system, and it worked, although it didn’t work as well as I thought it would have, but just keep in mind, maybe it’s because of freshmen and not seniors. I’m thinking if I use it with my senior class, they should show growth.”

The point of the CAP is to discover, said Ohan, not to be correct. But it proves or disproves theories that do or do not work in a given situation.

What works for English might not work for science, and what works for math might not work well for social studies. Or it may work across the board, he said.

A CAP is an organic instrument that is not static, and it ends the cookie-cutter approach to teaching in the classroom, Ohan said.