Less (Teaching) Is More (Learning)
slide deck will be posted at bottom of page

Tweeting? #ltiml @sewilkie @balancedtech

Session Description

One of the arts of teaching is knowing when to lead, when to help, and when to let the students figure it out themselves. We take the cliché about being the guide on the side seriously. But, how do you get from student dependence to independence? Join us for a strategy-building session on how to foster student-owned learning in the classroom. Don't expect one size fits all answers - but questions, strategies, possibilities, examples for our classrooms and yours, and maybe a few awkward silences...

Join us as we explore ways to:
  • Engage and empower students as critical thinkers, questioners, connectors and creators of content
  • Build student repertoire of problem-solving strategies
  • Challenge learners to mine mistakes, wrong turns and "failures" for the richer learning opportunities embedded within


  • What kinds of problems/challenges do students face at school?
  • What strategies have you found successful in developing students agency in their own problem-solving?
  • What happens when students don't/can't solve their problem/challenge?
  • How can we reshape students' connotation of failure?
  • How does failure relate to Dweck's concept of mindset, Duckworth's idea of grit, and the design principle of iteration?
  • How much failure is too much, how much is not enough?
  • How do we know when to let students stop/quit/move on?
  • What roles might teachers play in such situations? What roles might students play?
  • Is there a continuum of methods that range from less to more self-directed learning and problem-solving?
  • How do you know when to lead, when to help, and when to let the students figure it out themselves?
  • What difference does a metaphor make in our vision of our activities?
  • Do our students suffer from learned helplessness? Why? What can we do about it?
  • Throughout the course of the year (or several years), does this approach take more time?
  • How do we help learners redirect their attention from what's "expected" to what's possible?

LEGO Challenges

Problem Solving Strategies


Teacher Role(s)?

Less Is More Continuum?

Autodidacts, Self-Directed Learning, Student Exploration, Guided Discovery, Direct Instruction


Student Self Assessment

Documentation & Reflection

Digital Learning Farm

Information Processing

Closing Thought

  • What difference does the metaphor make?
    • Following a guided path.
    • Setting up guard rails. Wide enough to empower but narrow enough to guide.
    • Following a set of blazes.
    • Following footsteps.
  • Sometimes the guardrails are unnecessary or limiting. Sometimes they are freeing. How do we know?

Other Resources

Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
FAIL swilkie swilkie 5 106 Aug 10, 2013 by swilkie swilkie
Problem-Solving Strategies BalancEdTech BalancEdTech 29 353 Aug 9, 2013 by rbiegas rbiegas

Galileo13 Less (teaching) Is More (learning) slides -
(Please provide a link back to our BalancEdTech wiki if you use part/all of our resources.)