As teachers we feel obligated to get through as much material as possible. We look at the list of our standards and make a plan on how we will cover them in the time we are given. As we look at our pacing guides we have a tendency to panic, wondering how on Earth can we fit it all in and do justice to ensure that our students are learning.
So when we are asked to try new things in our classroom, a common response is “when will I have time to do that”? What if we started to think about the day to day operations of our class differently. If we plan to not stray from our comfortable ways, we will for sure never have the time to do anything different in our classroom. Is it possible if we allow ourselves to adjust how we play the game of school with our students on a daily basis, that we could free up more time to try new things?
For example, lets say that we wanted to start to be more intentional about properly using daily formative assessments. We know that when formative assessments are used properly, they will drive the next step in our teaching process. We create and administer a great formative assessment and analyze the results. The data tells us that 1/2 of our students understand our learning objective, but the other half are having varying levels of difficulty. This is where the million dollar questions is asked, “What do I do now”? This is the point where we start to question if we have enough time to adjust our instruction or just keep pushing forward, hoping that the struggling half our our students will eventually get it.
What could doing things differently look like? Consider the following example of what a class period could look like.
- Give your students a 6 question, low stakes (non-graded) formative assessment on the learning objective that you introduced the previous day. Create this formative assessment on an online platform like Formative or Google Forms that will grade it instantly. This immediate feedback will be used to identify the groups of students who understand the learning objective and the ones that do not.
- If you use the Formative website, you can ask your students a short answer question(s) and ask them to retrieve information on the previous days lesson. Formative allows teachers access to a screen where you can see all student responses at one time. You can easily form groups before your students are even completed with the formative assessment. Check out this link: https://youtu.be/8R6kLCpG5TU
- Once we have identified our groups, we need to decide our next step. Have something ready for the students that understand the learning objective. They do not need to listen to you re-teach the material again, they got it! Using Google Classroom provides you a platform to house enrichment activities. You could look at instituting “Genius Hour” or “Capstone Projects”. You could also use Google Classroom to have videos, assignments, & handouts available for your students to move onto the next lesson.
- Students do not understand our learning objectives for a variety of reasons. Google Classroom could be used to provide additional resources and mini-assignments to help students master our learning objectives they did not get the first time. If you have these options available to your students, it frees up time for you to pull students into small groups for re-teaching.
- Before the end of your class period, you could offer a “workshop” to provide help for any students that need it. In a “workshop” format, you can meet with students in a designated part of your room. Let the students ask specific questions on topics and concepts they are struggling with. Student participation could be voluntary, but you could always assign students to your “workshop” that you know would benefit from it. The students that do not need the workshop, can work independently on other material or lessons.
- Think about converting some of your assignments and activities you already have created into a Google Form. Within a Google Form, you can create various sections and have students go to a specific section based on the answer they give. If the student answers correct, it will take them to the next section of the lesson. If they answer incorrectly, they could be taken to a section that contains more practice, video help, or tutorials that will aid your students in mastering their learning objectives. Check out Google Form screenshots below:
There are many ways that you can organize a give class period. If we start to think differently and are intentional about having options available for all of our students at all times, we can free up time to provide our students with multiple opportunities to master our learning objectives.
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