When students discuss their approach to an assignment and their understanding of what an assessment provides they aren’t just focused on the mistake or misconception but the collective inquiry into preventing future obstacles.
Student empowerment has been foremost in delivering sound educational experiences but some of the tools have changed. I always provided students with a daily paper itinerary or web-based calendar but for some, this method of communication did not work. Instead of imposing my system of time management I have begun asking students to volunteer to pilot applications and present their findings to me and to the class. Choice is powerful. We recently picked a few calendar apps, to do lists and my personal favorite, Remind, a texting application. I posted homework on each and students report on their effectiveness. Students seem to enjoy the responsibility and role as a pioneer. Their feedback led to some changes in how I post on Remind, like providing the date of the assignment with each post. The simplicity of a limit on my own instructional text as well as when I can post (late morning and early evening posting avoid disruptions with push notification in the middle of the night) won a majority of students over. A shared Google Doc itinerary updated per unit seems to be the second favorite. Next week I hope to request a pilot of Remind’s interactive badges. Followers of my daily text can respond with a simple badge: either a checkmark, star, question, or x. And I think I will incentivize this feature with a chance to download/ pilot a game.
Texting is also a great tool for student-led analysis of point of view. Through my own use of social media, I have discovered how fun it is to review the variety of responses people give to a single hashtag or idea. Comedians, innovative companies and some of my online communities promote a once a week chat around a single phrase or question. When its relative to our class studies, I am beginning to substitute the daily vocabulary routine with a hashtag of the week. I will at first ask students to brainstorm their own responses or ideas and then project the variety of answers presented on Twitter or other social media tools. I am cautious though. Some responses from an adult community may be too abrasive or inappropriate but for the most part, they bring humor and fun discussion about the many ways we relate to language. I love having students guess the tweet or # to accompany a news story before we explore the actual news. Often we look at the variety of # that promote a sense of place. #vermont, #802 led to a discussion of how tourists might view our home yet how that might be less than the whole picture. Putting students in charge of critiquing social media and the accompanying apps gives students the control they might not otherwise experience as the consumer of information on a daily basis.
Recently, I ran into a problem with apps crashing right during a classroom instruction on the use of economic indicators, such as GNP per capita. We had not upgraded to iOS9 and the UN Countrystats app would load general information without the comparisons tool. The tool allowed for selections of any 2-3 countries of the world and one selected economic indicator for immediate graphing in color. Without this, I was forced to change my lesson. I set aside my control and called for students to explore their own inferences about measures of wealth and poverty. I set the criteria of one shout out per student for selecting countries and its GDP per capita. Others would look search until they could shout out the right answer and the rest of the class would move to guess how other countries would rank in comparison. We had more fun shouting out answers and following it up with research teams than we would’ve had otherwise. A few students committed to “old school” searches in classroom almanacs. What transformed was their own eagerness to begin finding other indicators besides GDP per capita. When I posed questions to direct student inquiry to notice population size or women’s access to education students began calling out other indicators: life expectancy, literacy, rural versus urban space that impact standard of living. When students realized this they also realized that their values were important to that relativity. Students were still discussing this as they strolled into the lunch room and onward to other classes. I think it was my best day this year.
What transformed was their own eagerness to begin finding other indicators besides GDP per capita. When I posed questions to direct student inquiry to notice population size or women’s access to education students began calling out other indicators: life expectancy, literacy, rural versus urban space that impact standard of living. When students realized this they also realized that their values were important to that relativity. Students were still discussing this as they strolled into the lunch room and onward to other classes. I think it was my best day this year.
What do you see when you look at this image? I still provide classroom lectures,
What do you see when you look at this image? I still provide classroom lectures, outlines, and criteria for assessment but return to the same questions for an improved response gives students the experience of delivering meaningful answers without my sole control of what they think. I’m in the practice of implementing a variety of tools: Post-its, Socrative, Google Forms or audio to collect all student responses.