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Letting Go

How to Give Your Students Control over Their Learning in the English Classroom

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Based in the Inquiry Learning Plan (ILP), a flexible tool that allows students to engineer their own goals and create an authentic final assessment, this practical approach provides a clear, customizable experience for teachers looking to shift ownership of learning to the student, whether wholly or in part.

The transition from rote lessons, traditional pedagogy, and standardized tests begins with the belief that students need to learn how to learn—and learn to love learning. Great idea—but how do teachers actually implement a curriculum that gives students room to do this? Letting Go: How to Give Your Students Control over Their Learning in the English Classroom explores an inquiry approach in which students differentiate their own learning with the space to choose texts, develop questions, and practice skills that are unique to their individual needs. 

The authors—two classroom teachers and a school librarian—discuss strategies to scaffold the inquiry process while addressing the common pitfalls students encounter. Student examples of activities, reflections, and final products provide concrete models of how to use the strategies separately and how they relate. The authors break down the inquiry process and provide support for gradual release of responsibility and power to students. In doing so, they show that letting go is rewarding for both teachers and students because students realize what they are capable of and learn what they love. Student work showcases the impact these inquiry strategies have on students’ understanding of themselves, their skill development, and their content acquisition. A companion website features complete ILPs for a more holistic view of the process, as well as reproducible materials.

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