An Abundance of Ideas

I received an e-mail today from one of my teachers who was feeling a little defeated.  She feels like what she is doing in the classroom is not working as well as it should – that the students aren’t learning as much as she would like them to. I think we have all felt this way before… like we are working harder than the students. 

I offered to help her brainstorm some instructional strategies and lesson ideas that might help engage the students more and make her life a little easier as well. These are some of the ideas I gave her: 

  • When you need to cover a broad concept or topic – Jigsaw it. I particularly like the idea of using the jigsaw strategy in conjunction with wikis. Expert groups can collaboratively create their entry on a class wiki page and then share it in their jigsaw groups, and since it is on a wiki, the information is accessible on-line for students to refer to, edit, and/or use to review for a test.

  • Choices, choices, choices… I think one of the easiest and most effective things to do is give students some choice in their assignments. For example, instead of telling students that they have to create a PowerPoint over the cause of WWII, give them some parameters and then allow them to choose their method of delivery (video, poster, skit, pamphlet, animation, web site, etc).

  • Teach students how to use a rubric and then have them “grade” each other’s work. Peer rubrics work well with whole class or in-group presentations, and you are the teacher so you can ultimately have the final “say” on students’ grades. There are many positives for using peer rubrics – students get to see the work of others so they can compare their own, they are in continual “contact” with the objectives they need to learn, they get to see the grading process in action (so they don’t think teachers arbitrarily assign random grades), and they get practice being precise and looking for the guidelines of a particular assignment.

  • Allow students to complete test corrections if they fail a test.  In Irving ISD we are required to give students the opportunity to remediate failing grades (major grades), so instead of giving them a re-test (which they probably won’t study for), assign them test corrections. I used to allow students to earn half of the value of their missed test question back if they got it right in their test corrections. I had students write out (or type) the question and the correct answer (sometimes with a justification). This process not only helped them pass the assignment, but it also made them re-visit the material so they could learn it – which is our goal, right?

Those are just a few of the ideas I shared with her. They are strategies that worked well for me. I would love for you to share some of the strategies that work for you… we can never have enough ideas!

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Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Instructional Strategies, Jigsaw, Strategies, Teaching, Wiki

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