AHA MOMENTS!aha_moment.gif

Several insights and "Aha" moments came to us through our research. We discovered these main tenets about the Autonomous Learner Model as they were practiced through a variety of programs throughout the world.

  • Autonomous learners accept responsibility for their own learning and develop the skills, concepts, and attitudes necessary for independent investigations.
  • Instead of seeing students as students, teachers began to see them as learners, and they began to see teachers were not dispensers of knowledge but facilitators of the learning process.
  • A life-long learner seeks truth, friendship, knowledge, and wisdom.
  • The ALM was developed at the high school level by and for the gifted. However, it has evolved as the structure and backbone of several gifted and talented programs at the elementary and middle school levels as well.

AhaMoment.jpgTwo additional “a-ha” moments became evident when we began to research about the particulars of the ALM program. When first reading about the ALM, we thought that it was another gifted model that simply enriched students’ learning environments, which was hardly distinguishable from others about which we’ve studied. However, the ALM is unique in the way it encourages the student to reflect on his/her own learning abilities and characteristics within the Self/Personal Development component of the Orientation dimension. Students complete this task before they even consider a particular topic of study. Through this introspective approach, students take various assessments of the six different selves that make up a total person: passionate, critical, creative, physical, emotional, and social. These assessments provide the student with an overview of what makes them unique and what they value the most. The student will use these self-assessments in determining his/her present desires and future goals. Eventually, those goals and interests will guide the student in selecting a topic for the culminating In-depth Study.

Student_Support_Team.jpgOne more interesting component about the ALM also lies within the Orientation dimension. The student is expected to assemble a support team including the following roles: teacher/facilitator, technological support, peer leaders, family and friend involvement, and a mentor. Each member of the support team has a clearly defined role in providing guidance and wisdom to the student as they embark on their journey of learning. Usually, students will select content specialists in their topic area who will not teach them, but will provide direction and information. By collaborating with trusted advisors, students can navigate around troublesome issues with other experts who might have encountered similar challenges.