An Independent Learning Contract is a great way to provide for the needs of students working above or below grade level. An Independent learning contract is an agreement between you and one of your students (or each of your students if you are using this with your entire class.) The contract includes tasks or activities the students will complete around a chosen topic of interest. They have rules and guidelines, due dates and options for student choices in assignments. Students complete the form, detailing how they will show what they’ve learned. The contract requires that they come up with objectives to work at each level of cognition from Bloom’s Taxonomy. The packet also includes a daily log for students to track their progress.
Independent contracts are most often used when a student wants to study an area of special interest and needs some structure in order to do it. Oftentimes, the student is gifted and moves more quickly through class assignments, so this type of assignment can be done after class work is completed. If you have a student who is continually finishing assignments well before others students, he/she can start on a learning contract tomorrow. This assignment is ready to be printed and used right away.
I.L.Cs can also be used as a way to modify the curriculum for students working below grade level. It allows a structure for the two of you to discuss and decide on the learning objectives that the student will be able to master and provides an opportunity for a lower-performing student to achieve success. Using I.L.Cs with an entire class is another great option. It allows for structure, while also giving students choices with the appropriate levels of challenge. I have used these after completing a novel, to allow students to delve deeper into a topic of interest. I give students a list of topics to choose from that we covered while reading the novel or short story.