The Self-Directed Learning Handbook: Challenging Adolescent Students to Excel
February 2003, Jossey-Bass
1. The Case for Self-Directed Learning.
What Is Self-Directed Learning?
How Does Research Support SDL?
The Major Principles of an SDL Program.
The Essential Elements of SDL.
Approaching SDL in Stages.
2. A Framework for Teaching SDL.
Defining the Course.
Expanding Learning Options and Environments.
Building Independent Thinking Skills.
Negotiating Student Learning Agreements.
Establishing Assessment Processes.
3. Rethinking Student Coursework.
Essential Planning Steps.
Understanding the Stages of SDL.
Linking the Stages to Grade Levels.
Designating Course Outcomes.
Developing Self-Managed Course Units.
Student-Planned Coursework and Projects.
Focusing on Competencies and Challenges.
4. Planning Lessons and Projects.
Principles for Planning Lessons.
Designing Learning Episodes.
Involving Students in Project Planning.
5. Teaching Independent Thinking.
Inviting Inquiry and Initiative.
Developing Problem-Solving Skills.
Using Process Frameworks: Investigation and Action.
Cultivating Process Thinking and Attitudes.
6. Negotiating Student Learning Agreements.
The Learning Agreement or Contract.
The Elements of a Contract.
Negotiating Contract Agreements.
Tracking Student Progress.
7. Motivating and Empowering Students.
Encouraging Students to Pursue SDL.
Motivating Students to Motivate Themselves.
The Working Journal as a Motivational Tool.
Dealing with the SDL Crisis.
Working with Difficult Students.
8. Assessing Student Achievement.
Promoting Student Self-Assessment.
Assessing General Skills.
Evaluating Projects and Assignments.
Portfolios for Personal Learning.
Passage and Graduation Criteria.
Demonstrations, Celebrations, and Conferences.
9. Pursuing a Path of Excellence.
The Teacher Is the Key Person.
Making a Difference to the Student.
Starting an SDL School.
Administrative Support for SDL.
Creating a Shared Vision.
Resource A: How Much SDL Are You Teaching Now?
Resource B: How Self-Directing Are You?
A Self-Assessment Instrument.
Resource C: The Passage Process.
Resource D: The Integrated SDL Unit: The Kinds of Activities Involved.
Resource E: Inner States for SDL.
Resource F: Sample Process Templates.
Resource G: Guidelines, Traps, and Boosters.
Resource H: The Support Group or Triad.
Resource I: Samples from a Student's Working Journal.
Resource J: Some of the Many Ways Students Can Learn.
— Ron Miller, executive editor, Paths of Learning magazine
"This book offers thorough and detailed instruction in the
creation of self-directed learning environments. It's a much-needed
'how-to' manual for classroom teachers who want to motivate and
empower their students to flourish as learners."
— Karen Fernandez, teacher, Denver Public Schools
"Will help teachers and administrators implement a vision of
schooling that will revitalize their professional lives while
providing avenues to success for all their students. I have seen
the successful application of his vision for over twenty years, and
this handbook is a practical guide for expanding the possibilities
to any school that wishes to challenge itself to become the best
that it can be."
— Arnold Langberg, educational consultant, former principal of Jefferson County Open High School
"This is one of the most practical, wisest, and most upbeat
books I've encountered in thirty years of teaching, and working
with teachers. Educators who want to do SDL will find this an
extraordinary valuable resource, one they use over and over
— Joe Nathan, director, University of Minnesota Center for School Change