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How to move from teacher managed to student, peer and expert managed learning

When students in Keri Aspegran’s class returned to The International Montessori School after the CoVid- 19 social distancing rules had been lifted, they arrived to a turtle tank covered in algae.

They had to plug their noses. The smell was that bad. The tank was covered in dark green algae, and their pet turtle was walled up in a corner.

Wasting no time, Mrs. A grabbed some algae, put it under the microscope and projected the image onto the big screen. Kids huddled closely. She asked students to identify what they saw.

Excitedly, students pointed out the expanse of invertebrates they learned about in previous lessons. They also hypothesized as to why the algae formed.

One student, so taken by the investigation, decided in that moment to use part of the classroom to construct his own ‘invertebrate farm.’ His ‘project’ would involve studying ant behavior through daily observations and environmental controls.

He would go on to manage, monitor, and evaluate the project completely on his own.

Do you allow for this kind of spontaneous exploration in your classroom? How do you create an environment (online or in person) that students can manage, monitor and maintain by themselves?

I sat down with Montessori expert and teacher Keri Aspegran ( to discover the secrets to a student- managed classroom. In our short interview you will learn how to:

  • Ask questions that incite curiosity and imagination

  • Get students to teach each other

  • Only ‘teach’ students when they ask for it, and still cover your standards

  • Use a cheap 99 cent work diary and daily processes to create reflective learners

  • Use short 5 minute conversations to get your most reluctant learners working harder than they ever have in the past

Watch our full interview below:

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Kyle Wagner
School Transformation and Project- Based Learning Coach

I coach school leaders on how to lead change and improve student learning through simple, innovative srategies and teaming structures.

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