1st Edition

Step Aside Strategies for Student-Driven Learning with Secondary Readers and Writers

By Sarah M. Zerwin Copyright 2025
    170 Pages 29 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    All students can drive their own learning when we show them how. Humanized, equitable classrooms start with a commitment to building student agency. Step Aside offers clear, streamlined guidance for launching secondary students into high-level work that hinges on their ideas and insights.

    Sarah writes from the complex and challenging space of daily life in a classroom. She knows student-driven learning does not mean students make all decisions about what happens in the classroom. It occupies a more nuanced space where teachers carefully curate the classroom experience and teach students how to navigate it on their own.

    Sarah has done the work to weave many resources into a Three Step Meaning Making Process that grows students’ thinking. Each chapter offers effective, flexible strategies to put into practice immediately:

    ●      Reading strategies that work for any text students need or want to read.

    ●      Writing strategies that work for any text students need or want to write.

    ●      Discussion strategies that students can use to talk things out with others, no matter the subject.

    ●      Assessment strategies that show students how to set goals, track their progress, and learn anything they want to learn in their life, in or out of school.

    Especially when we notice our students are struggling, Step Aside reminds us we need to hold ourselves accountable for keeping out of the way of the most important work. Our students must read and write and think and discuss—on their own—to navigate the complexity of their lives.

    1. Introduction  2. Invite Students to Drive as Readers  3. Invite Students to Drive as Writers  4. Invite Students to Drive the Conversation in the Classroom  5. Invite Students to Drive Assessment and Grading  6. Design the Classroom Space to Support Student-Driven Learning  7. Student-Driven Learning Makes Our Work More Sustainable


    Sarah M. Zerwin, PhD, is a high school English teacher at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. With nearly three decades in the classroom, Sarah continues to adapt her teaching practice to the evolving needs of her students. A national presenter and consultant, Sarah is the author of Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading. See more at sarahmzerwin.com.