Education Opinion

Adjust Instruction Based on Student Work

By Starr Sackstein — December 06, 2016 2 min read
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We’re in the computer lab permanently now which has been a real boost to my moral.

The new school isn’t as into technology as the old school, but this lab is a step in the right direction in terms of getting students to take ownership of their learning and having access to information that enriches the curriculum we are already working on.

Not having to rely on cell phones or to continually have to sign up for the lab has freed me up to be able to start really incorporating digital literacy as well as better and more frequent actionable feedback on documents since Google Docs is now a mainstay in communications and expectations.

Additionally, since students can see what is in Pupilpath every day, they’re more able to maintain their feedback logs and set better goals.

Right now we’re working on passion speeches which happened as a result of my noticing their interest in a discussion of the first amendment which came up in our Collections in reference to a Supreme Court case about flag burning.

It was the moment that can often arise when we work with a pre-made curriculum. It’s the moment when you see a spark that wasn’t previously there and you decide to diverge from the expectations to follow student interest and get them really involved in their learning and decision making.

To date, this has been one of the best decisions I have made for this class. Rather than force students to make their speeches about the anchor text, we moved into the lab and they started researching topics that really mattered to them.

Topics range from bullying to race relations to censorship to animal rights and LGBT rights. Each student started practicing finding good resources, reading and annotating texts to better inform their speeches and starting tomorrow, they present their findings.

Since everyone is now using their Google accounts, I’m able to see where each child is in the process and adjust my lesson plans daily. For the students who are moving faster, they are more equipped to move ahead as needed and I can enrich their learning by providing additional resources and making suggestions to push them to the next level.

For students who are lagging, I’m able to adjust the pace, meet with them in class, figure out what the hold up might be and address it. Where global issues arise, I’m able to adjust the mini lesson as needed. For example, after reading about 10 drafts, I’d noticed that students were writing their speeches like essays and not for the benefit of a listening audience. Because I was able to identify this trend, I was able to find a resource (both written and video) and give a short lesson on how to these two kinds of writing are different.

As educators, we need to really make sure our instruction suits the needs of our learners. We can do this best when we know what each of them is actually doing each day. Using tools like GAFE helps to make that available in a variety of ways. Whether through revision history or comments or even peer comments (as in the picture), students are able to work at their own pace and we are then able to adjust appropriately as often as needed.

How do you adjust instruction for students based on what you see in their learning? How do you help students become aware of these strengths and challenges as well so they can communicate them better? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.