Friday, March 27, 2015

Student Selected Learning Objectives with @PollEverywhereand @PostItProducts

I've been thinking about my learning objectives lately. I'm going for the Highly Effective rating this year for my evaluation. I've been doing very well in many of the categories, but there are some that I still needed to enhance. One of those areas is the role of students in my classroom. I'm a big advocate for student choice (20 Time), but I needed to think of other places I could let students have a voice. Learning objectives seemed like a good place.

Traditionally, I decide the focus of each lesson and unit and how the students are going to approach a certain piece of literature. I post that at the start of class on Evernote and share it with students at the start of class. I feel this is a pretty standard approach to setting up a lesson for many teachers. Having students select the learning objective turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.

We were starting our Emily Dickinson unit and I wanted my students to do some research on her life. I gave the students 8 parts of her life to explore (Childhood, Education, Religion, Health, Relationships (Family and Social), Adult Life, Writing Career, and Death). Students split these ares up with others at the table and spent the class period doing research. They were to come to class the next day and share their findings. 

On the next day, students were instructed to discuss their findings and decide on what they thought were the 5 most influential events in Emily Dickinson's life. They were to place these 5 events on Post-It Notes provided on their desks. 

The students discussed their research and started to write out their thoughts on the top 5 events. Once they were done, they had to place them on the dry-erase board. I set up the board with 5 slots that matched the color of the Post-it® Notes they were given. It was so nice to be able to color code the information using the notes. Also, I got the extra sticky notes, so the notes could be moved around from desk to wall and all over the wall when we organized.

Once all of the ideas are placed on the board, the class looked at them and discussed them all. I moved them around and grouped them based on shared concepts. Next time, I will have students do this part of the process. It was easier for me, but I think it is better if let them do it. Each class had their own ideas and they explained them in different ways. It made for a more interesting class each time for me instead of leading the same discussion multiple times. This really let the students take the lead and that was the whole point of the exercise.

After the organization of ideas, we went to the voting phase of the learning objective. I numbered each concept the students had grouped the ideas into and created a PollEverywhere so students could vote anonymously from their mobile devices. It was a very quick poll and it only took a few minutes at most. The kids loved having the chance to use their mobile device and have a say in how they were going to learn for this unit.

Each class had different ideas and a different discussion. When the dust settled, different classes chose different learning objectives. While some might view that as more work for me to prepare different class discussions for group of students, it really will not be more work. The students are invested in the class discussion because they have ownership of their learning objective. They will be the ones that are going to lead class discussion because they know exactly how they are going to approach the topic because they chose it. I really see this as a great way to get more students involved in class ownership and look forward to trying out in other units.

Other Use Cases:

Using Poll Everywhere and Post-it® Notes does not have to be confined to the ELA classroom. Their are applications for these great tools in all classes.

Science Classroom: One of the best parts of Science can be guessing. That is what experimenting is all about. Having students look a a problem in class, write down how they think the problem can be solved using Post-it® Notes, and then use Poll Everywhere to choose the best guess is a great way to get students thinking about Science.

Once the students do the experiment, they can get back together and write their ideas down on Post-it® Notes and see if they all understood what just happened. The process can be repeated multiple times for any number of experiments:

Math Classroom: Post-it® Notes are perfect for quick problem solving and sharing. A teacher can place a problem on the board and have students do the work on the Post-it® Notes and run and place them on the board. Students can then review the work and see if the answer matches up.

Students could also use Post-it® Notes and Poll Everywhere as a way to let the teacher know what they want to focus on for the day in class. By writing down the problems they had trouble with or the concepts that they are are still struggling to understand, Poll Everywhere could be used by the class to focus on one area without students feeling embarrassed about not knowing something.

Tools Used:

Poll Everywhere was a great addition to my classroom. I have used it in sessions at conferences, but I have not really used it in the classroom. It was so easy to set up and I the students loved the quick feedback in class. If you do not have an account, sign up and use it with your students when you need to collect some information. They are also really awesome on Twitter, so give them a shout out if you have any questions about using Poll Everywhere in the classroom.

Post-it® Notes have always been a big part of my life. I use them for so many different things, there really isn't time to go over them all. Post-It Notes allowed me to quickly get the information from my students and have them share it with the rest of their table and then place it on the board for easy grouping. The extra sticky notes were perfect and stayed securely to the whiteboard in the back of my room. I think teachers all over use Post-It Notes and there are tons of fun and creative ways to use them in the classroom.

“I am a compensated 3M-sponsored blogger. Opinions are my own and additional products used in the project were selected by me. ” 

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