Best Practices

Computer-Assisted Classes—High School

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English department chairwoman
The Academy of Irving ISD
Irving, Texas

Teaching in a mostly minority district is challenging, but watching literacy levels rise and students excel at our school has been a joy. A jigsaw puzzle of strategies has contributed to that success, with technology being one of the largest factors.

Post lectures

ESL students need to hear and see your PowerPoint lessons more than once. Post lectures to your Web page or Blackboard site and allow students to view them often. Facilitate note-taking by color-coding the most important points.

Stop direct teaching

After you start posting lectures, you’ll find you do very little direct teaching. This allows you to circulate more and help students individually and in groups. You’ll find that they’re more often on task, and you’re less frustrated.

Allow for retakes

Most computer programs allow you to create quizzes in pools. Let’s say you’ve accumulated 30 questions for a quiz. A student chooses 10 questions from the pool and is permitted to retake the test a predetermined number of times, receiving different questions for each quiz. Before retesting, students must return to the original lecture and review the notes, which reinforces learning the material.

Set a high mastery level

My students must achieve 85 percent mastery of the computer-generated material before moving on to the next portion of the lesson. There’s some resistance to this at first, but they soon forget the idea of “just getting by” and aim higher.

E-mail reviews

You can send e-mail notices home before major exams and attach review materials. Parents see that work is getting done, and they’ll appreciate being involved.

Vol. 18, Issue 02, Page 45

Published in Print: October 1, 2006, as Computer-Assisted Classes
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