Monthly Archives: June 2014

Effective Success Starters

Rollins (2014) suggests that students should be immediately engaged in today’s work to maximize time spent on learning. Typically students may work on review assignments, which are too easy for some and to hard for others, and on reviewing homework or previous assignments, which some students finished easily while others did not start or could not complete. Then, by the time the teacher is ready to start the new lesson, students are burned out and checked out.

Instead, if the teacher focuses on setting up the student for the material that will be covered today, the students’ are prepared to participate and learn. Some strategies she suggests include:

  • Role-Playing: this could be in groups, or even in paragraph writing using a strategy like RAFTS.
  • Surveys: would be a great way to use technology. The teacher could create a survey using Google Forms and share the output page to the class. Students could then discuss the outcomes, and could make and discuss different charts with the output.
  • Prediction: this can be as simple as predicting an outcome. Students can predict the topic by sorting keywords and phrases into their own categories or categories provided by the teacher.
  • Questioning: the teacher gives a topic for students to create a list of questions about.
  • Brainstorming: brainstorming can be a great chance for non linear thinking, so long as students feel safe that their ideas will be accepted without criticism.
  • Concrete Representations: students can use manipulative or react to images or artifacts presented by the teacher.

Using these types of activities prior to a lesson would help students connect more meaningfully to the lesson that follows, by providing a context and activating the students’ schemata.

Using Google Drive to check understanding

I have often used whiteboards teaching math. I write questions on the board, and students answer them on small whiteboards, showing me their answers. I record their progress on a chart, and help them with questions that they don’t understand. This worked well in Special Education classes, with five to fifteen students, but I am not sure that it would work with thirty or more. The recording progress would take all my time, and I would not be able to help many students.

If I were to do the same thing using Google Forms, the form would track the students’ progress, and I could monitor the sheet to help students who were getting answers wrong and students who asked for help. The response sheets also are automatic documentation of student work.

Concept Maps – really?

example concept mapCan I be the only one who looks at this type of thing and instantly finds my attention fading? This, to me, is the single greatest anecdotal evidence of learning styles I have in my own life. I just hate concept maps and flow charts.

In Learning in the Fast Lane (2014), Rollins suggests the use of concepts maps to help students understand what they are learning. This may work for some people, but I look at these and my eyes glaze over. I much prefer to put my thoughts into complete sentences, or at least bulleted lists.