Learn how to leverage your students’ discourse communities for optimal, asset-based learning.
As educators, we’re always trying to develop new ways to build on the skills and interests that our students bring to our classrooms.
In our recent webinar, “Honoring Student Voices: An Asset-Based Approach,” our Chief Literacy Officer, Dr. Barrie Olson, and our Director of Professional Learning Design for Literacy, Heather Sampselle, talked about how discourse communities are an integral part of asset-based learning.
If you missed the webinar, you can watch it here, but in the meantime, here are some highlights.
Focus on Assets
An asset-based approach is not about what we give to students, but rather the wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences they bring to school with them every day. When we develop asset-based classrooms, we can get to know each student’s unique strengths and leverage them for optimal learning, rather than being driven by what we want to teach them.
Use Discourse Communities Intentionally
Your students already belong to several discourse communities, from sports teams, to religious communities, to gaming platforms, where they had to learn vocabulary, rules, and expectations in order to participate. And many of them succeeded in these communities with minimal to no guidance from the adults in their lives! Point this asset out to them, and be transparent when talking about how your classroom, and the accompanying subject matter, is its own discourse community.
Reimagine Content, Reassess Objectives
As tried and true experts, we love our subject matter, and sometimes it can be tempting to teach content for content’s sake. But our main job is to teach our students critical thinking and problem-solving while giving them the tools they need to thrive in and improve all the academic discourse communities they end up joining.
Use Discourse Communities to Celebrate Student Voice
Your students come to you already equipped with the ability to succeed. After all, they’ve succeeded before, countless times and in countless contexts. If you point out how seamlessly and skillfully they move between different discourse communities every day, you can emphasize that the subject you teach is just one more of these communities for them to join. Sure, they might have to learn some new skills, rules, and concepts, but this isn’t anything they haven’t done before!
Watch the full webinar to learn more about how you can develop an asset-based approach in your classroom. You'll feel empowered to leverage discourse communities in your classroom to create meaningful, authentic, and asset-based learning experiences for your students!
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