Happy Sunday, friends! Missouri is finally beginning to thaw from our experience with the polar vortex earlier this week. We experienced actual temperatures of 0 degrees with -15-degree wind chills – it was INSANE! Today, we’re expecting temperatures of 60 degrees + and will be taking full advantage of the awesome weather by having as much outside time as possible! In addition to enjoying the fantastic weather this weekend, I’m also preparing for a week of technology in the Social Studies classroom trainings with the Institute for Educational Development. As I typically do when I’m prepping presentations, I ask my students for their feedback on what I should include in the presentations, and what I should tell other Social Studies teachers about using technology in the classroom.
Quick backstory – there is a lot happening in my classroom on a daily basis. Asynchronous learning is everywhere. We use unit HyperDocs in my American Government classes which always follow this pattern:
Pre-Assessment and Learning Targets –> Before beginning a unit, students complete a pre-assessment that is tied to the learning targets for the unit. Then, they chart their pre-assessment data and their goal for each learning target on a Spreadsheet I share with them through Classroom. At the end of the unit, they go back to their chart and enter their post-assessment data, and are able to actually SEE how much they’ve grown.
Explore –> Students familiarize themselves with the content of the unit, specifically focusing on new vocabulary and fun information about the new topic. For example, in our Constitution unit, the students found out which founding father they were most like in this Buzzfeed-like quiz. In our Legislative Branch unit, they were introduced to their elected legislators with a “choose your own” adventure type of Google Form in which they learned about congressional committee assignments, the background of elected officials, sponsored and co-sponsored bills, etc.
Explain –> In this step, students actively interact with content through instructional videos. I create my instructional videos using Screencastify and include formative assessment, monitor student progress, and provide feedback using Edpuzzle. Students take notes as they proceed through the videos, either on a Google Doc or using paper/pencil.
Apply –> Students choose how they will demonstrate what they’ve learned through the unit using a Show What You Know Bingo board on the Apply page of our HyperDoc. Students can choose from a variety of products to create and
Collaborate –> Students work with their peers in this step to accomplish a learning target, most often related to a landmark Supreme Court case, content related concept – like Gerrymandering, etc.
Review –> I include links to Kahoot!, Quizizz, or Quizlet review games so my students can access this information at any time.
Extend –> Students who finish assignments early can choose to complete extension activities to earn bonus XP in our class. More on XP and gamification in Chapter 8 of Illuminate!
Formative Assessment –> We formatively assess daily whether it’s through a Kahoot!, Quizizz, or Quizlet Live game, a Google Form, a Padlet, or a thumbs up/fist to five hand signal. It’s so important for me to know where my students are so I can help them get to where they need to be!
Spiraling Content –> We have days, at least twice a month, where we “go back in time” to a different unit, spiraling learning. This allows students to frequently review previously learned concepts, and hopefully connect those concepts with content they’re learning currently.
Like I said, a lot happens in my classroom! It’s messy … but learning isn’t a neat and orderly happening.
Like so many teachers, I’m always hesitant to ask for student feedback. It’s vitally important to my teaching, but I’m scared to do it. Yes, test scores steadily improve from year to year, but test scores are the most important thing in my classroom – I want my students to learn and grow as people and have fun doing so. The reason I’m so hesitant to ask for feedback is because I’M SCARED! You can always count on students to give you an honest answer about your teaching and how they’re feeling in their classroom. I pour my heart and soul into teaching and it’s terrifying to ask someone to give you what you will know will be brutally honest feedback about this work!
What was their feedback, you ask?
“Tell them about those HyperDoc things.”
“And the part where we don’t have to do worksheets, we make games and slideshows and stuff.”
“Tell them to do the pre and post-test things where we can chart our progress.”
“Make sure they know how to use Kahoot! and Quizizz and Quizlet Live.”
“Don’t forget about Heads Up!”
“Show them Edpuzzle and how we can learn at our own pace.”
Hearing their feedback — things they want me to tell other Social Studies teachers how to use in their classroom — was so fantastic and reaffirmed for me that they appreciate the learning environment I’ve created. My teacher-heart is swelling with pride.
How often do you ask for student feedback?