Technology integration, individualized learning, differentiation, data based decision making, standards driven content…the list of expectations in any given lesson could go on and on, but how do teachers go about efficiently meeting all of these demands in their classrooms? Blended Learning is a great solution that many teachers are turning to, and one model frequently used is Learning Contracts. These contracts are agreements between the teacher and their students, which allows students some choice in their learning while requiring students to meet conditions set by the teacher. Contracts outline an entire lesson or unit for students before they begin learning the content, providing them with what they will be learning, how they will learn it, due dates, and assessments.
Learning Contracts are also a great way to get students involved in the curriculum planning and learning process as students can create their own contracts letting the teacher know how they best learn by identifying activities that are best suited for them, or that they are most interested in completing. Teachers can leave the contract entirely up to the students (after they have become comfortable with the use of contracts in the classroom), provide students with a list of possible learning activities that they can choose from (similar to the Tic-Tac-Toe Board below) or create a combination of required activities and student choice activities.
Learning Contracts also allow students to work at their own pace, requiring the minimum of all students, but providing extension activities for the students who work at a faster pace than their peers. Often times contracts can include individual, peer, small group, and whole group activities, which naturally group students with peers at their same level as they reach activities at about the same time. Check points can also be built into the contracts which require a student to conference with a teacher before moving onto the next activity on the contract. As students will reach these check points at different times it opens up the opportunity for the teacher to work one-on-one more frequently with the students.
There isn’t one correct way to structure Learning Contracts, which is great for both you and your students because you can create a contract that is perfectly fitted to the learning environment that you have created in your classroom. Regardless of the format you settle on, using a contract is a great way to enhance learning in your classroom. Already using Learning Contracts in your social studies classroom? Share your experiences, tips, and tricks with us here!