January 24, 2019
The school year is almost half-way through and your mind is a jumble – What have my students learned? Have they learned anything? Is my class an interactive one? Are they engaged when I teach? Am I doing all I can for ALL of my learners? When is the last day of school?
There are many reasons why you’re feeling this way, but one that stands out is …YOU CARE! You WANT your students to succeed. You WANT your students to feel proud of themselves. YOU want to feel like you’ve helped them meet their learning goals. Thus far, is their collective response to your teaching/their learning a positive one?
If you can, take a few minutes to reflect on your students, especially those that may have challenges (your English Language Learners, students with special needs, etc). Do you know what each student likes to do? What subject(s) does the student perform especially well? Which learning modalities (auditory, kinesthetic/tactile, visual) does the student gravitate toward? How, when, and why does the student interact with others? A valuable means to reflection is self-reflection. Create a short questionnaire for students to complete using an student response system. In real-time, identify what their learning preferences are and the types of activities they favor. Future planning can be simplified if you know what your students respond to and the types of activities that best help them learn.
Differentiated instruction is a “tailored-to-the-student” approach that accommodates the different learning modalities and preferences in the classroom. Students often work in small groups, discussing what they’ve learned and collaborating on how to proceed. Providing a support system through interaction, where a goal must be met, can help boost a student’s confidence and help them progress. More and more classrooms are turning to technology to engage students and “invite” them into dynamic ways of learning. With the inclusion of interactive boards and tablets in classroom instruction, all students can easily collaborate and learn from one another. For example, present a math problem on the interactive board and have small groups work together to solve. Students can use annotation tools, such as those included in Oktopus software, to solve the problem. After you’ve observed most groups with a solution, have them share the solutions to the interactive board via their tablets so all can see. Students are focused on meaningful discussions, comparing how they’ve learned a concept/skill with how others have learned that same concept/skill.
By now, most of you have tried scaffolding strategies to make learning new concepts/skills manageable and “digestible” for your students (think “bite-size” instead of “gulp it all”). Common strategies include reading aloud, modeling or using gestures, using graphic organizers or visuals and realia, and making connections to what they already know or have experienced. Many of these scaffolding strategies are used in combination (i.e. “think aloud” as you read aloud or making a K-W-L chart to guide the students through learning a new concept). Using technology makes scaffolding more interactive and triggers different modalities (two for one!). For instance, with a lesson on parts of speech focusing on adjectives, read aloud a short passage and identify the describing words using the “think aloud” method (Sarah held the squirming, furry creature in her arms. Hm, the creature is described as squirming and furry. I can imagine Sarah is holding a furry little puppy, but why does she call it creature? I’d better keep reading to find out.). With a partner, students can work together to complete an activity or game on adjectives from one of the many Blend standards-aligned lessons available. After the discussion, have students independently complete a quiz using a student response system in self-pace mode to collect feedback and provide you with information on how to proceed (i.e. whole class, small group, or one-on-one review).
Give Something New a Go
Maybe, just maybe, the way to keep your mind from imploding with all the questions of uncertainty that are stirring about, is to try something new. Incorporate a different way (i.e. technology) of facilitating lessons to reach the variety of learners in your classroom. Time, resources, and, let’s admit it, confidence may be what’s holding you back. Try a “get up and running” package such as Oktopus Blend software that works with your interactive board and see if those questions (doubts? fears?) don’t hush up a bit. All it takes is that first step …
Categories: Audience Response