Posts Tagged ‘Differentiation’

Ways to Instantly Use Primary Sources

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

AUTHOR: Courtney Webster, Social Studies Specialist

Primary resources prove the details of our existence. Without them, historians would not be able to research the past.  Primary documents are used by those who want to understand the person, the place or the event to verify or determine what happened.  History if taught with fidelity can be considered a social science, where students look at various sources whether primary or secondary to research, discuss and validate historic events as accurate or not. As teachers, we would love to use resources in our classrooms but some barriers can make it difficult, including: reading difficulties of students, challenging vocabulary, traditional cursive writing and access to sources that are relevant to students.  From records, interviews, images, articles and maps, all primary documents can be useful to social studies courses.  According to Wineburg and Martin, “[h]istory in sourceless classrooms becomes limited to the textbook, effectively silencing the rich chorus of voices that could speak to contemporary readers.”[1] And although new textbooks have incorporated more primary sources into their covers, oftentimes it is more important for students to examine, inquire and analyze the value and importance of such sources through touch and observation. This allows for them to both connect the student understandings, as well as, the context of the event. Whether you are teaching elementary, middle, high school or college, your students should be learning the skills it takes to comprehend historical content through original documentation.  Here are three ways to make the use of primary sources happen in your class today.

  • Create anchor text with major documents.  The United States Constitution is mentioned significantly in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for courses 5, 8, 11 and Government. Naturally, we do not expect students of various grade levels or reading abilities to approach the document the same. However, they should all have access to the writing and language of the original and an opportunity for understanding the basis and evolution of its interpretation. Even more helpful would be if students had a modified version of the Constitution along with the text of the original Constitution. This would support students in seeing how text is summarized and reworded for simplicity. This foundational document should grow in meaning with students each passing year. Using the United States Constitution as an anchor text.  An anchor can be used in multiple ways but the basis of creating an anchor text is for students to revisit the text for deepening their knowledge. A teacher could place the constitution as a working anchor chart on the wall or by including the text in student’s interactive notebook.  The Constitution with its principles and changes are approached in every era of American History.  However, we as teachers allow students to see the document typically during their civics unit only.  Instead, this foundational document should be revisited as much as possible and treated as a mentor text (even though mentor text implies that the text is chosen by the student to help them explore the information further).  Regardless to how the anchor text is viewed, with a close reading strategy and multiple points of reference, the acquisition of this document would be helpful to students, providing them with an opportunity to revisit topics, inquire about meaning and apply context to content with their current unit.  Informational text along with other sources and books can remind students of their civil liberties back to our Democratic Republic playbook with all of the rules, changes and challenges of our great country.

Identify, yet tamper with the evidence.

The word tampering can have a negative connotation, however, both Dr. Wineburg and Dr. Martin use the word tampering to really mean adapt. By adapting, the authors are really saying, accommodate the language of the article.  In fact, “[they] urge teachers to physically alter sources: to change their syntax and vocabulary; to conventionalize their spelling, capitalization and punctuation- even rearranging sentence sequences if necessary…”[2] This particular piece can be time consuming however there are resources that can get you started.  When looking for how to teach primary documents, as well as, for documents that are already modified, go to Teaching History.org[3] Documents and tools are segmented into elementary, middle and high school categories.  Also, there is TexQuest[4]  which has several databases to teachers to use and find sources. Inside many of the databases, you can receive access to modified documents and there is a reading link for students use to listen to the documents as well. To determine whether or not your district has access to TexQuest contact your campus librarian for more details.

Conduct historical inquiry based on a single document

Dr. Wineburg states, “…history reminds us to start with basic questions.”[5]  Students are inquisitive about the people, places and events of the world, however, they are not keen on answering questions because that often times requires the right answer. Students, in our information age, must learn how to form questions to better understand new information beyond the facts.  One can encourage students to build questions by using the PBL “Needs to Know” method. This can happen by allowing students to look at a primary document and simply asking the question, what do we need to know to understand this text or image?  Once students have developed a list of ideas, encourage them to categorize their statements and ask questions based on their list. Another method used to build inquiry is the Question Formulation Technique (QFT).  This is a way of building inquiry was developed by the Right Question Institute[6] founders Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. Their book Make Just One Change deals with the complexity getting students to think by generating questions. By introducing the QFT technique, teachers are molding students to think about concepts instead of recite facts.

Regardless to whether you are stepping into the classroom for the first time or meeting a new group of students for the twenty fifth time, take a new approach to primary documents and have fun watching your students explore social studies with more depth through authentic instruction and text.

[1] Wineburg, S., & Martin, D. (2009, September). Tampering with History: Adapting Primary Sources for Struggling Readers. Social Education, 73(5), 212-216.

[2] Wineburg, S., & Martin, D. (2009, September). Tampering with History: Adapting Primary Sources for Struggling Readers. Social Education, 73(5), 212-216.

[3] Teaching History.org, home of the National History Education Clearinghouse. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://teachinghistory.org/

[4] TexQuest  . (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://texquest.net/welcome

[5] Wineburg, S., D. Martin and C. Monte-Sano. Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle & High School History Classrooms. 2013.

[6] The Right Question Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://rightquestion.org/

How to Create an Anchor Activity Using a Tic/Tac/Toe Board

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

AUTHOR: Virginia Keasler and Mary Headley, Math Specialists

How do we teach math to the wide range of diverse learners in today’s classroom? It is often difficult to match the readiness levels of every student and knowing where to start can be a challenge. Consider starting simple and celebrating successes along the way. Anchor activities can help you reach the diverse population in your classroom.

What are anchor activities? These activities are used for students to extend learning at their level. Student choice within these activities allows for students to apply and experience the learning in a variety of ways.These ongoing assignments are considered independent work and can be something students are working on for the next two weeks or something due in a few days. While some students are working on anchor activities, the teacher can utilize small group instruction to work with students who need more help.

Tic/Tac/Toe Boards: The content for this anchor activity can be modified to meet the needs of students at varied levels. Teachers may use Tic/Tac/Toe boards for extension, assessment, or as homework choices for the week. On a Tic/Tac/Toe board, the teacher can strategically place activities to enable students to get a Tic/Tac/Toe that demonstrates their learning.

Helpful Hints for creating a Tic/Tac/Toe board:

  1. Determine the content/topic for the board.
  2. Brainstorm activities, assignments, and products for the content/unit you have chosen.
  3. Check TEKS alignment.
  4. Write ideas on post-it notes.
  5. Sort activities based on learning styles (verbal, auditory, kinesthetic, etc…)
  6. Place post-it notes on the Tic/Tac/Toe grid.
  7. Check the configuration for variety to achieve a Tic/Tac/Toe. Move as needed.
  8. Type idea onto the Tic/Tac/Toe grid.

The following table gives an example of a Tic/Tac/Toe board for reviewing a math unit:

Explain the math steps that you would use to solve a problem from this unit Solve two of the problems in the “extensions” station Using the “beat” of a popular song create your own math song. See the choice board station for rules
Create two word problems that go with the concepts in this unit Student Choice Activity (with teacher approval) Define the unit’s vocabulary words with your own form of graffiti
Complete one mini-project from the project board Develop a game using skills you have learned in this unit Research and write how these concepts might be used in the real world

Variations:

  • Allow student to complete any three tasks–even if it does not make a Tic/Tac/Toe
  • Assigns students task based on readiness
  • Create different choice boards based on readiness (Struggling students work with options on one choice board while more advanced students have different options.)
  • Create choice board options based on learning styles or learning preferences. For example a choice board could include three kinesthetic tasks, three auditory tasks, three visual tasks.

Author Rick Wormeli offers the following Tic/Tac/Toe board based on Gardner’s (1991) multiple intelligences.

Interpersonal Task Kinesthetic Task Naturalist Task
Logical Task Student Choice Intrapersonal Task
Interpersonal Verbal Task Musical Task Verbal Task

To access a blank choice board to use in your classroom click on the following link: Blank Choice Board

Reference:

Wormeli, Rick. Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhourse 2006, pages 65-66

Instruction from the Student Point of View

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Author: Cynthia Holcomb, Education Specialist: Elementary Science

In October of 2014 I read an article published online by the Washington Post. The title grabbed my attention: “Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns.”  The author, Valerie Strauss, reported how passive her role had been in the learning process and how lethargic she felt throughout the day. She concluded three key ideas to consider for effective instructional design. Upon reflection, I think there are some quick but powerful ways to make instruction more meaningful and engaging for students.

The Author’s Key Takeaway #1: Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.

The author reported students literally sit down the entire school day, except for the brief walk to change classes. Teachers, though, are standing in front of the room, passing out materials, and collecting papers. It gives the illusion of an active classroom.

The author discovered it took a conscious effort not to fidget or daydream. She longed for activity, realizing it sacrifices teaching time to do so; but if students are lethargic and not absorbing most of the content anyway, lectures are probably not very effective.

What does that tell us as educators? Should there be a hands-on or movement-driven activity in each class? In the classroom, we can keep our student active by using the Think-Meet-Share-Create technique. In this activity, the teacher poses a question to the class. Each student thinks of his response to the question and jots down his answer. Next, students get up to meet with a partner. They take turns sharing their responses.  Before returning to their seats, partners create a new answer that is superior to their individual answers. Students get a chance to get up and move, they get a chance to talk, and content is still the primary focus.

The Author’s Key Takeaway #2: High school students sit passively during approximately 90 percent of their classes.

The author discovered that students rarely speak in class. The teacher lectures, or there is a test or an individual assignment, or one student is presenting information or called to the board to solve a problem. The typical student’s day is spent passively absorbing information.

Sitting in itself was tiring, but it’s compounded by trying to absorb information without discussing or interacting with it.  We can use the Rule of Ten and Two to take students out of the passive role. For every ten minutes of lecture or exposure to new content, students need at least two minutes to talk to each other about the information. It’s like a stick of gum. You have to chew it to get something out of it. Provide two-minute breaks for students to clarify, restate, or quiz each other over content. When students have a chance to process information in different ways, they are more apt to make connections.

The Author’s Key Takeaway #3: Students feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

Teachers know that they have a set amount of time to teach and need to use it wisely, and as an offshoot, students are told frequently be quiet and pay attention. In addition, every educator has experienced several students in a row asking the same question about as assignment. It is annoying to explain the same thing repeatedly, but students often ask questions as a way to seek reassurance.  When teachers reply with sarcasm, impatience, or annoyance it sabotages the learning and reinforces disappointment; that’s not a good feeling to have as a learner. Ask yourself these questions to evaluate the climate of your classroom:

  • Do I speak hastily, calmly, clearly? Do I nag?
  • Do I spend more time disciplining or encouraging my students?
  • Do I respect students even if I’m annoyed? Am I consistent in my responses?
  • How would my students describe me most of the time?

My Key Takeaway

It is a given that teachers work hard, but it’s often hard to be a student as well. A few changes in lesson design can improve the student experience so that that there are more engaged, alert, and balanced learners sitting (or standing) in our classes.

View the original article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/24/teacher-spends-two-days-as-a-student-and-is-shocked-at-what-she-learned/

English Language Learners as Writers

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Author: Dana Ellis, Write for Texas Instructional Coach

According to school accountability data tables, students who are limited English proficient typically struggle in mastering writing skills behind their native English speaking peers. In some ways, this reality is not wholly unpredictable. After all, it takes both knowledge of a language and time experimenting with it to be able to skillfully arrange words into precise lines of reason capable of moving a reader. Though certainly not lacking in reason or passion, English Language Learners do not have the arsenal of English words at their disposal nor knowledge of American style to use on state writing assessments. To top it off, they are still students learning about life while being asked to massage meaning out of it.  Therefore, to ensure academic success in writing, special attention must be given to ELLs.

From the onset, before students memorialize their words on paper, a culture of safe writing must be established. Writing is a personal and intimate act, potentially full of the risk of social acceptance or rejection. Teachers should not skimp on time spent discussing behavioral expectations for writing workshop. Students should be thoroughly convinced that writing efforts will be met with respect and acceptance. Teachers should model their own writing for the class as well. Watching the teacher write messy drafts underscores the idea that all writers make mistakes. If all writers make mistakes, then ELLs are released from the self-imposed mandate to deliver print-ready manuscripts from the outset. All these actions work toward producing a safe, productive place in which to write.

Research from a wide variety of sources consistently supports the effectiveness of explicit writing instruction. However, classroom visits often reveal that teachers favor writing practice over writing instruction. For ELLs especially, writing must be broken down into individual goals, procedures, and features.

For example, ELLs may not realize that standard American academic writing is linear in nature. This type of writing identifies a topic directly and then consistently follows that topic through, without deviation, to a conclusion. However, the ELL may be more familiar with another culture’s academic approach. For instance, Semitic languages like Arabic favor colorful language and repetition or backtracking. Eastern languages such as Japanese explore a topic without stating a writer’s thesis. The reader is meant to mentally engage with the ideas written and draw his own conclusions. Students who transfer from a culture with a different academic writing style will be unfamiliar with the structure of an American essay. Therefore, teachers should point out text features such as a thesis, transitions, conclusions, persuasive arguments and so forth in model essays to help students conceptualize American writing styles.

A major goal for teachers of ELLs is to uncloak the thinking tools used by experienced writers as they compose texts. This means that writing processes are systematically taught through extensive modeling and metacognition while stimulating purposeful writing experiences. This cognitive approach to writing encourages students to construct meaning within a clear, easily duplicated framework. Specifically, students should build a writer’s tool kit so that they are able to approach a writing task declaratively, procedurally, and conditionally. They can determine what the writing task is, how to approach the writing, and when they have achieved the writing goal.

Following this thinking, a teacher might approach an expository essay assignment by leading the class through activities designed to build background knowledge on the topic about which students will write. Academic words used to describe the topic would be identified, explained, and verbally used by the students. The activities would be translated into concrete, language-rich classroom references (anchor charts, word banks, or desk tools). Next, the teacher would introduce a model essay on the topic, analyzing and color coding the model while using spoken thoughts to guide students through the discovery process. Emphasis would be placed on identifying audience and author’s purpose in the piece. Parts of the essay which demonstrate the focus skill would then be labeled clearly. Next, the teacher would provide some type of writing recipe, a graphic organizer, set of index cards, flipbook, or similar device that divides up the writing task into components that imitate the mentor text. Alternately, drawn boxes on notebook paper could indicate an introduction, body, and conclusion. Finally, students would be asked to focus their thoughts into a specific writing task while the teacher circulates and provides feedback. Immersion into the topic in this manner would pave the way for writing success.

To summarize, helping ELLs to be effective writers in the classroom involves being aware of cultural differences; building a safe writing climate for risk taking; giving students the tools, words, and models needed for achievement; and then allowing them time to practice writing. With these practices in place, students and teachers can change history!

 

Sources

Barkaoui, Khaled. “Teaching Writing to Second Language Learners: Insights from Theory and Research.” TESL Reporter 40.1 (2007): 35-48. Web.

Booth, Carol O., and Robert Landa. “A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School.” Research in the Teaching of English 41 (2007): 269-303. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

“NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs).” NCTE Comprehensive News. ELL Taskforce, Apr. 2006. Web.

Radford, Colin. “The Power of Words.” Philosophy 68.265 (1993): 325-42. Scholastic. Web.

Samway, Katharine Davies. When English Language Learners Write: Connecting Research to Practice, K-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006. Print.

Formative Assessment in Science: Three Big Ideas

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Author: Cynthia Holcomb, Education Specialist, Elementary Science

It’s a hot topic: Formative Assessment. Every resource will define it for you in basically the same way: formative assessment is for learning while summative assessment is of learning. But in plain language, formative assessment is an activity in which students share their developing ideas while the learning is still taking place. It’s a very active approach to learning.

So, how do we use formative assessment in science instruction? By nature, science is an active process that provides opportunities for students to discuss what they are learning as they practice what they are learning. Science instruction should provide experiences and types of thinking used by all scientists.

Consider these three Big Ideas about formative assessment in the science classroom.

 1.  A critical part of science teaching is having a dialogue, not a monologue, with students to clarify their existing ideas and to help them construct the scientifically accepted ideas (Scott, 1999). An activity to promote rich discussion is called the S.O.S Statement. The teacher presents a statement (S), asks each student to state an opinion (O) about the topic, and then support (S) his or her opinion with evidence. This activity can be used before or during a lesson to assess student attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge about a topic. It can be used at points throughout a unit or lesson to assess what students are beginning to understand about the topic. And it can be used at the end of a unit to see if ideas have been influenced or changed as a result of new learning.

2.  No matter how well-planned a lesson, the need to determine student understandings through unplanned formative assessments may arise. Clock Partners is a method of creating sets of partners for spot checks of content knowledge. In this activity, each student is given a copy of a Clock Partners sheet (a picture of an analog clock face) at the beginning of a grading period, unit of study, or other desired length of time. Each student meets with classmates to write their names by a corresponding hour of the clock so that the resulting partners have each other’s names on matching hours. To pair students for discussions, announce a time slot on the clock; partners meet to discuss, clarify, or summarize content ideas. Have partners report out their key ideas as a means of assessing their understandings of the topic and to determine if re-teaching is necessary. For more information on Clock Partners, see http://www.readingquest.org/strat/clock_buddies.html.  (This site includes a downloadable clock template.)

3.  For a quick but effective formative assessment activity, ask students to create an analogy about content. When students create metaphors and analogies, it can express a level of understanding that traditional questions and quizzes don’t address (Wormeli, 2009). A student-created analogy provides a map of how the learner links ideas together; it shows insight regarding connections from prior learning as well as highlighting misconceptions.  Periodically, present students with an analogy prompt: A ________ is like _________ because ______________. (Example: A cell’s plasma membrane is like a factory’s shipping and receiving department because it regulates everything that enters and leaves the cell.) This high level of application requires students to think deeply about content as well as to help guide instruction.

As an added benefit, while the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening, the process also provides practice for the student and a self-check for understanding during the learning process.

 

Sources

Scott, P. (1999). An analysis of science classroom talk in terms of the authoritative and dialogic nature of the discourse. Paper presented to the 1999 NARST Annual Meeting. Boston, MA.

Wormeli, R. (2009). Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject. Stenhouse.

Something to Ponder: Letter of the Week

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Author(s): School Ready Team

While there is universal agreement that the ability to identify letters and sounds is essential for reading success, educators differ in the way they teach these skills.  A common approach is “Letter of the Week.” This method generally involves introducing one letter per week through several whole group lessons. Children sing songs, read books, make crafts, and/or generate a list of things that start with the focus letter.

Though Letter of the Week (LOTW) has been used for many years and is even integrated into some state-adopted PreK curriculums, research suggests there are more effective ways to teach letters.

Reasons to Re-Think “Letter of the Week”

1.  LOTW is not rigorous enough for all students. Children in your class have different levels of letter knowledge. LOTW requires some students to spend instructional time focusing on letters they have already mastered and causes other students to forget letters they learned in past weeks (Fountas & Pinnel, 2011).

2.  LOTW does not capitalize on a child’s intrinsic motivation to first learn the letters that are most important to her- such as the letters in her name, letters in the names of family members and friends, and letters needed to describe a picture she has drawn (Justice, Pence, Bowles & Wiggins, 2006).

3.  LOTW does not teach letters in a way that makes sense to young children. Though many prekindergarteners enthusiastically participate in LOTW activities, letters presented in isolation are an abstract concept. Research demonstrates that children must develop letter knowledge “in coordination and interaction with meaningful experiences” (Neuman, Copple, & Bredekamp 2000).

Using a narrow “letter of the week” focus suggests that the most effective way for children to learn letters is in isolation (one at a time) and/or in sequence (ABC order).   Children learn most effectively by interacting with letters in context – recognizing and writing their names and names of classmates, reading environmental print, using labeled signs and systems in the classroom, composing writing as a class, pretending to read and write in center activities, singing alphabet songs, and playing letter games. Teaching letters in this way helps children become more competent, successful readers, especially later in elementary school when students must read to learn.

 

Sources

Justice L.M., Pence K., Bowles R., & Wiggins A. K., 2006. “An Investigation of Four Hypotheses Concerning the Order by Which 4-Year-Old Children Learn Alphabet Letters.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 21(3): 374-89.

Neuman, S., Copple, C., and Bredekamp, S.  (2000) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children.  NAEYC press:  Washington, D.C.

Pinnel, Gay Su and Fountas, Irene C. (2011). Literacy Beginnings:  A prekindergarten handbook.  Heinemann: Porstmouth, NH.

What to Look for on Pre-K Classroom Walk-Throughs

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Author:  School Ready Team

Are your Pre-K classes “kid ready”?  Here is a quick list of 5 things to look for.

 

 

 

 

Student Interaction at the Secondary Level; Increasing Language Development for ELLs

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Author:  Trish Flores, Bilingual/ESL Specialist

 

Engaging students at high levels of interaction is a goal for today’s schools.  High levels of interaction ensure that students are learning to use metacognitive skills to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning.  Meaningful interactions create opportunities for students to practice what they are learning and apply it to authentic situations.  Typically, our thoughts on establishing these learning environments revolve around core subject areas such as math, science, literacy, and social studies.  It is not uncommon for teachers of elementary students to engage them in cooperative learning activities that lead to high levels of interaction.  Recently however, secondary teachers of students whom are second language learners are seeing the value and importance of implementing cooperative learning activities to accomplish two goals: content mastery and language development.

It is a wide held understanding that a skill or new learning is perfected after it is practiced and used frequently.  One does not learn to play an instrument on the first or even tenth attempt.  Learning a new skill takes targeted and focused practice that needs to be structured.  In a middle school classroom, teachers can create this learning structured environment by establishing learning stations that are geared to the specific needs of English language learners.  These mini islands of knowledge are organized to allow students the opportunity to use new and existing academic vocabulary in various expressive manners in order to master content and increase their English proficiency.  Although this might be new territory for middle school teachers, it can be accomplished with relative ease and high levels of success.

 

Student Grouping

As with planning any activity for your classroom, teachers need to be aware of the ability levels of their students when assigning them to station groups.  When working with second language learners, teachers need to know the language proficiency levels of students so that they can create groups that will be successful in expressing their knowledge in a variety of ways. This information also assists teachers in knowing how to scaffold the lessons linguistically.  The proficiency levels for all four communication strands (listening, speaking, reading and writing) can be found in the chart below.

Beginning Intermediate Advanced Advanced High
Beginning ELLs have little or no ability to understand English used in academic and social settings. Intermediate ELLs have the ability to understand simple, high frequency English used in routine academic and social settings. Advanced ELLs have the ability to understand, with support, grade-appropriate English used in academic and social settings. Advanced high ELLs have the ability to understand, with minimum support, grade appropriate English used in academic and social settings.

Groups are flexible and can be changed based on the knowledge level of the content and the language proficiency of the students.

 

Activities

The activities placed in learning stations need to reflect the rigor of the content being taught in a whole group setting.  Once the content is introduced, activities to extend the learning are placed in the learning stations.  Keeping in mind the language proficiency levels of students, teachers need to differentiate the activities by providing resources such as vocabulary word banks, sentence stems, paragraph frames, visuals, dictionaries and other materials that provide scaffolds for ELLs.  It is important to keep in mind the goal of language development when designing activities. Students need to be able to develop expressive skills such as speaking and writing as well as the receptive skills of reading and listening.  It is vital that activities be structured to support student-to-student or group interaction and provide ways for  ELLs to use English to explain concepts and contribute to the work. This gives teachers an opportunity to gauge what the student has learned while assessing student progress in English language development.

 

Management

It is crucial that students understand how to manage themselves at learning stations. Teachers need to communicate their expectations for time management and group conduct.  Roles such as time keeper, leader, materials person and scribe can be assigned to students to encourage participation and accountability.  These roles also offer hidden opportunities for students to develop their oral language.

 

Accountability

Learning stations offer teachers opportunities to observe their students and gauge their level of understanding of content and language use.  As students complete activities they place work in station folders for teacher review.  Teachers may review the assignments to assess students’ use of language.  It is in this final step that teachers can provide students feedback and refine the learning tasks to create higher language learning expectations.

High levels of student engagement are goals for educators.  All teachers, regardless of content or grade level, should strive for high levels of engagement so that their ELLs can have opportunities to enhance their language skills.  Students should not merely be recipients of knowledge but active constructivists of their own learning.  This can only be accomplished when teachers create authentic learning environments that require students to speak, read, and write on a daily basis.

Flipped Classrooms

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Author:  Leslie Barrett, Technology & Library Media Services Specialist

 

Flipped classrooms.  Flipped learning.  If you haven’t heard these education buzz words in the past 12 months, chances are good that you will hear them in the next. They refer to a concept, a method of teaching, that is gaining attention and popularity in schools and classrooms of creative teachers trying to meet student needs in an increasingly diverse and technology rich world.

 

What, exactly, is a “flipped classroom”?  In the most general terms, a flipped classroom is one in which the content of a lesson is delivered outside of class time (usually as homework consisting of a pre-recorded video lecture), and the practice portion of the lesson is carried out during class time with teacher guidance.  The concept of flipped learning has been around for a while, but it was most recently popularized by two chemistry teachers, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  While co-teaching in a rural Colorado high school, Bergmann and Sams were looking for a better way to guide students through the application phase of their learning.  “The time when students really need me physically present is when they get stuck and need my individual help.  They don’t need me there in the room with them to yak at them and give them content; they can receive content on their own.”  (Sams 29)  They started recording their lectures using a screencast software called Camtasia and made the videos available for students to watch as homework.  Class time was utilized for students to conduct labs and work on content problems and activities while the teacher circulated among students offering guidance.  Bergmann and Sams later wrote a book, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, in which they give readers details about the evolution of their flipped classroom, describe the flipped classroom models and steps they employed, and share their observations on how flipping their classroom has impacted student achievement.  “We had seen our students learning chemistry more deeply than ever before, and we were convinced.  Our method was changing students’ abilities to become self-directed learners.”  (Bergmann & Sams 42)

 

Executed thoughtfully, there are many benefits to flipping a classroom.  When students watch the content lecture on their own time they have the power to slow down or speed up the lecture to meet their individual learning needs.  They can rewind and review difficult or confusing concepts.  They come to class equipped with the foundation information necessary to engage in learning activities that incorporate the new information.  Students are not left to struggle with content application at home for homework without the benefit of the teacher nearby to answer questions or provide clarification.  Instead of using class time to lecture, the teacher can circulate through individual or small groups of students checking for understanding, guiding deeper thinking, answering questions, and addressing student needs on a more individualized level.  The teacher no longer assumes the role of dispenser of information, but instead becomes a facilitator of learning as students absorb and apply the content.  A flipped classroom model provides more in-class opportunities for teachers to individualize and differentiate instruction to meet a wide range of student needs.  Flipped classrooms can create more student-centered learning environments where the ownership of learning shifts from the teacher to the student.

 

There are, however, many who disagree with the flipped model of learning.  Critics argue that not all students have access to the technology necessary to view the lecture videos outside of class.  Videos often are hosted on YouTube or other similar video hosting sites that are blocked in many school environments.  And, let’s face it, students don’t always do their homework, often for legitimate reasons.  If students can’t view the lecture videos, how are they going to receive the content delivery?   Arguments are also made that “lecture” is not the most effective method of teaching, and opponents of homework in general are definitely not in the flipped classroom camp.

 

Like any other innovation in education, flipping the classroom is something that requires careful thought and planning.  It is not the answer to every problem schools today are facing.  It is merely an attempt to create more time during the class day for individualized instruction and to nurture a more student-centered learning environment.  It is a model that capitalizes on students’ innate interest in and facility with technology. There is no rule book or strict formula for schools or teachers to follow to implement a flipped learning model–teachers can use the bits and pieces that work for each unique situation.  As you are presented with increasingly more information buzz on the topic of flipped classrooms, the most important thing to keep in mind are the students.  Would your students benefit from a flipped classroom model?

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about flipping your classroom, please join us on February 20, 2013 for our Mastering the Flipped Classroom workshop (SP1325597).

Source

Bergmann, Jonathan, and Aaron Sams. Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education, 2012.