General Directions

General Directions

These directions outline general guidelines for all three forms. Specific directions for each form can be found on the page preceding the form.

Individual and group contracts

All students in a mixed-ability classroom, groups or individual students can use these forms. If the entire class is involved, different students may use different forms. Students can work on a contract as a group or as individuals. A consistent amount of time should be provided each week for contract-related work. Learning contracts also provide an on-going, constructive activity for students who finish their regular assignments before their classmates or students who have already achieved the core learning outcomes.

Small groups of students within a larger group or class can also work collaboratively or individually on contracts. As above, this is a great tool for challenging fast-finishers or advanced students.

Single students within a class can also be offered a learning contract to provide them with manageable, monitored and challenging opportunities.

Support

Students are likely to need a good deal of support on their first few contracts. Although many bright and gifted students like to work alone, they need support and monitoring from more expert learners (teachers, mentors, peers, etc.) as they become more independent learners. Subject-related content is not all that they are expected to learn from these activities. This is why these forms are called dependent, NOT independent, study contracts. Good learning is dependent upon input from other people as well as books, websites, etc. The student should be able to depend on adults and the contract for assistance in their efforts to become better and more independent learners. The small approval box in the bottom left corner of each page of the multi-page forms ensure they will seek the teacher’s assistance and approval for their work as they move into and through their study.

Time

Students can learn in a few spare minutes or when they are given more substantial chunks of time. If every class or group member has a contract, regularly scheduled time should be given to the whole class for contract-related work. Contracts usually need to last a minimum of three weeks, even for beginners. Short (3 weeks) are preferable when there is an understanding that they can be extended. Long-term contracts (10 weeks) sometimes get out of control or forgotten until the last minute.

E-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g the Forms

Some students will want more space to write than the forms provide. Sandra Kay solved this problem by creating a booklet/journal for her students using the forms as a guidefor the student entries. Blank sheets of lined paper were inserted between single-sided copies of each page of the forms.