At our campus we’ve been working on a professional development strand on student voices, and as I wrote about recently, held student panels in order to get feedback from our student body.
One thing I learned during the session is that our students, too, are suffering from information overload and we need to be providing more help and to provide more time when possible.
What have you heard from students about how they learn? What are things you’ve tried or would like to try in the future to increase student engagement? What were the results of what you have tried? `
Any tools you’ve discovered along the way that have been especially effective? Looking forward to a discussion of things, small or large, that you’ve learned from your students.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xurble/376588066/
8 thoughts on “Lessons learned?”
Here are some random thoughts that try to represent the students at my school:
Quizlet.com has been a student favorite. They use it lots of classes and it is never an assignment from us. We also have a growing group of kids who like to build study pages on wikis but prefer it be behind a password so the kids who do nothing can’t just use it without contributing.
The kids like when teachers do study sessions at night and use Vyew.com or some whiteboard tools.
Kids say that smartboard notes are helpful to them.
On religious holidays, the kids really appreciate if the teacher tried to do a ppt and uses profcast to record the lecture. (suppose ustream could do this now.)
9th grade History has done a great job making xtimeline.com, google pages, and google earth effective with student learning.
Student acceptance with these is tied to teacher engagement and introduction of the tools. Kids say the assignment is more fun than a worksheet would be and they say connecting to google earth makes them remember the geography better than a paper map.
I have a group of kids that like del.icio.us and a group that like rss feeds but not necessarily for study purposes. They keep track of things like Fantasy football leagues.
On the tech front but not web2.0 my 9th grade kids would say they like the einstruction clickers. My 10th grade kids like DyKnow for lectures. Both make class more interactive.
We are hoping to be 1:1 and I think OneNote and Zotero for high schools could be transforming tools for kids if teachers and librarians take the time to teach them how to use them. I alos think Del.icio.us and diigo might come of age for us when they have a browser with the right customization.
I learned from our student panel that students like to know personal things about their teachers, so I will try to share more with my students. I am also making some homework assignments optional so that if they feel they already know the material they do not need to do more practice.
I thought it was interesting that the students prefer groups to be assigned rather than the students forming their own groups. I have decided to try a combination of both. I am going to let the students choose one person that they would like to work with, and then assign the other two to form a group of four. I had never considered the social aspect (i.e. which friend do you choose to work with) in forming group work.
I heard the students of the panel saying that they learned best from a variety of assignments (not always book work). So on the second night of homework for a particular topic. I let the students choose to either do the book work or make up a song, rap, etc. that would help their classmates remember the importand topics from the chapter. The results were very entertaining and educational. It allowed the students to express their creativity and individuality in, of all things, a math class!
I’ve done the “pitch candy to us” thing for years, and it does work! I do, however, think it’s sad that kids get motivated by something that’s not really good for them, but…oh, well!!
I forgot to add (I was requested by several people to post this) that with grammar “problems” I always tell students that if they made an “A” on the last test (as grammar is cumulative) they can do EITHER “evens” or “odds” from the problems.
This cuts their homework time in half. Then, only those who NEED the extra work have to do it! They really appreciate this response to their previous success and it makes them try harder on the next test to win the “award.”
I enjoyed the student presenters and arranged to hear them twice. The most surprising thing I learned from them is that they care more about making a good grade in the course than excelling on the AP exam. I am thinking about ways to make both goals more attainable.
I have been trying to integrate more digital applications into my lesson plans this year. Each of my classes has a class blog on my Web site, and I assign writing assignments that are posted on the blog. This has allowed my students to share ideas or reactions to reading or writing assignments. The added benefit is that the postings are dated, so I have documentation of when the work was completed.
I have also recently used pbwiki pages for small group work. The pbwiki page had a learning curve, and all of us learned a lot about how to edit the pages! Of course, the comedians in my class found the chat box that can be added to a pbwiki page almost immediately. Watch out for that one. They had a lot of fun looking like they were working, but really chatting with one another! Sneaky students!