Learner-Centered Teaching

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Promising Practices in Learner-Centered Teaching

Learner-Centered teaching shifts the focus of any learning opportunity from the teacher to the learner. There are a variety of methods including active learning, cooperative learning, and inductive learning, which may include inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, project-based learning, and discovery learning. Discover a variety of learner-centered approaches and learn how to utilize them in your classroom.

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Inquiry and Science  w/ Tim Saunders


Tim, along with the principal at his school, created a game where students proposed "Big Ideas" on space-related issues that began a debate-style conversation in class. The "Big Ideas" were Tim's way of deepening science inquiry. 

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Expeditionary Learning w/ Julie Younghee


Julie teaches at an expeditionary learning school and shares how grouped, or paired, teachers align their curriculums and integrate multiple subjects within different scenarios for students. 

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Interdisciplinary Units w/ Vera Naputi & Kate Jorgensen 


Vera and Kate describe how they work together to co-create and plan instruction, using essential questions to guide interdisciplinary units. 

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Full-Inclusion Classrooms w/ Vera Naputi & Kate Jorgensen


Working in a team and sharing 50 students in a two-year loop, Vera and Kate plan instruction using essential questions. Their approach to differentiation is “unique and creative,” providing ample time to “deliver intentional content.”


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Project-Based Learning w/ Skylar Primm


Skylar shares how he has seen students “blossom” when directing their own project-based learning – learning that is driven by interest and not a textbook.


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Origami Sale w/ Mary Buchholz


Mary’s students create a company with four work teams - production, marketing, custodial, and sales. During the year, they learn mathematics, social studies, and other subjects while creating origami. 

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Place-Based Learning w/ Mark Wagler


Drawing upon decades of expertise, Mark offers practical examples for educators interested in beginning place-based learning. An example of learning in and about Madison’s Greenbush Neighborhood is shared.

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Field Corps Project w/ Victoria Rydberg


Through the Field Corps Project, biologists work with schools, teachers, and students on weekly basis to model place-based learning. The program models how place-based learning is meaningful for academic achievement and community wellbeing. 


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Play-Based Learning w/ Ilana Nankin


Play is an opportunity for self-expression, conflict resolution, improvisation, and creativity. From her San Francisco classroom, Ilana illustrates why play is essential for students’ social, emotional, and academic development.

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