I recently viewed this particular webinar via the ASCD website. As will be the case with most of these posts, I share a combination of the presenter’s information with my own previous experiences as an instructor.
According to Pitler (2013), three things are needed to create an environment for learning:
- Set objectives and provide feedback
- Reinforce and provide recognition
- Cooperative learning
This particular webinar was geared towards the first point (Setting objectives and providing feedback)
FYI: Learning Objectives (LOs) can also be interchangeable for Learning Targets
So, here are a few classroom recommendations discussed:
- Set specific, but non-restrictive learning objectives (to include an objective + activity)
- Communicate LOs to students/parents
- It is very important to post learning objectives beyond verbalization. Pitler mentioned a few good reasons such as students not paying attention, students coming in late, or students simply forgetting what was stated in a matter of minutes. In addition, other factors that could come into play include student attitude, time of day (many students I observed were in fact still waking up within the first 30 minutes or so of class, which means nothing was registering except not wanting to be there), internal factors (i.e. illness), or external factors (i.e. family/work issues).
- Several ways to post one’s objective could be via the whiteboard, PowerPoint slides, a handout, and of course verbally.
- I can testify that all of these are often needed. Often times I created a calendar for students at the beginning of each quarter to keep available EVERYDAY (out of folder, not in). Not all grasped this concept. Some lost it and required another one. Instead of viewing the calendar each day to see what was scheduled, most asked. I will also say that it is good to post objectives for evaluation purposes (if this is a particular question on yours).
- Make sure that there is consistency, which will be discussed further also, in what, how, and where you post. If changes are to be made, make sure it is not only verbalized, but changed on the calendar handouts (if you use these).
- As you can see, the point is to post in more than one place, but with consistency (students will pick up on this, obviously, and some are not always so kind about it). J
- Depending on the type of class you are teaching, in addition to posting the objective be sure to include a relevant activity so that what is learned can be practiced for a better understanding.
- Oral Discourse
- After the students complete the activity, allow time for them to discuss what they learned with another classmate (“elbow partners”-Pitler).
- Depending on student dynamics (as a teacher, you should know who will take this serious and who will not, who works well together, noticeable cliques, etc.), you may consider having a class discussion of what was learned and even how it could be applied to their particular field of study/interest.
- Based on the discussion, personalization allows students to address any weaknesses (misunderstandings) and how they wish to improve.
- Whether secondary or post-secondary, personalization also allows the student to connect what was learned to a particular career. A simple example would be students presenting information via PowerPoint and then asking them how this would be helpful to anyone interested in Law Enforcement or Education.
- Based on what you observe in the student interactions, be sure to remind students of the objective (even though they have it in more than one place).
- One thing I would notice during group projects is that students would get a little over excited and venture into areas that had nothing to do with the objective or become too involved in the activity and forget that it’s not just about fun, but comprehending the processes.
- Connect LOs to previous/future learning
- I found that many times not only did one lesson tie in to the next, but often time certain classes. Connecting learning objectives, I believe, raises a certain awareness in students to pay more attention as it is very much likely that they have or will see the same information again.
- Engage students in setting personal LOs
- Inquire of students what they wish to achieve from a particular class, preferably at the beginning, and then midway, check to see if they are still on track or have deviated.
- However they have or have not progressed, a mid-course check (or as often as you deem necessary) is good to determine how to build upon their strengths and to create an action plan/evaluation point to address their weaknesses.
A few other things to consider (Pitler, 2013):
- Consistency in posting LOs
- Consistency in verbalization of Los
- Consistency in referencing Los
- Consistency in allowing students to personalizing Los
- School consistency of posting Los
- School consistency in posting expectations of teachers
- Consistency in where objectives are posted even as a school
Providing feedback (should be corrective)
- Provide feedback addressing correct items and elaborating on the next step
- Provide appropriately in time to meet student’s needs
- Provide feedback that is criterion referenced
- Engage students in feedback process
- Use peer and self-assessments
- Explain rubrics
Feedback- I think as educators, we all realize how important this is to not only provide but the way in which we provide it. I didn’t realize the reaction I would get (hadn’t even really thought about it), but when I started grading with pens other than red, the students were so happy. Red ink scares students…J Especially if you are heavy-handed with it (guilty as charged!) It not only helps to provide feedback through assignment comments, but allowing time in class to discuss common errors made by several students so as not to single any one individual out.
One form of feedback (although somewhat time-consuming) that I found entertaining and helpful was making a PowerPoint presentation with questions from the test (usually fill-in-the blank) with incorrect answers (from student tests). I wouldn’t single anyone out (although some told on themselves, but in good taste). Someone would read a question aloud with the wrong answer and then we’d discuss why this was the wrong answer (could be the context of the question or a simple grammar lesson such as knowing what words follow “a” and “an”). Again, this could be time consuming, and has to be done respectfully, but several students found it very helpful. I also found that these types of feedback discussions helped them understand how I formatted my tests.
So…a lot of information , but very useful and the best part is that it can be tweaked in some fashion to fit your particular classroom. It’s always good to have more ideas.
Stay tuned for more instructional posts. And please feel free to comment and share your own relative experiences.