Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reflections on Building a Student-Centered Learning Environment Part II

I am continuing to focus on facilitating a learner-centered classroom enhanced by technology.  I am also trying to limit the amount of  homework for my students. Homework falls in 1 of 2 categories: Optional enrichment and Stuff They Didn't Finish. I suggest they don't spend more than 15 minutes on either on a daily basis. The combination of these two factors has been a challenge for me. 

Recently,  I shared my experience with our first quiz in this post. Long story short, my students struggled on our first open note quiz. We decided to focus on the areas of struggle by narrowing our focus using another collaborative activity.  We retook the quiz a week later. The retakes results showed improvement. We did not see as much improvement across the board as I hoped, but I think it was a step in the right direction.

Here are a few takeaways from this experience. 
  • Students need more practice collaborating. The have a tendency to default to divide and conquer. This is not working for them. They improved on the concepts that they chose to work through. They did not improve much or at all connected to the concepts their partners focused on. 
  • Focusing on everything is too much. Some of the students tried to take on all the concepts without thinking about what they already knew. They admitted they were overwhelmed by the amount of information they needed to know in a reflection question connected to the quiz. 
  • Time becomes a serious concern. Many of the student-centered and collaborative activities have taken longer than even I anticipated. 
Next steps:
  • Checks for collaboration by having students stop and discuss what they learned during the activities. 
  • Formative assessments built by students to challenge and assess their partners' learning.
  • Solve the time issue? Still thinking about this one. 
We are working on a WeVideo collaborative activity connected to climate factors that will be our preparation for our next quiz. I built in the first two bullet points, but I have a feeling that time will still be an issue.