Closing out the School Year
As cleaning and grading start winding down, I look back on the school year with a critical eye. What worked? What didn’t work? Some things worked others didn’t. For instance I noticed that students enjoyed using vodcasts. I flipped the classroom for certain topics and found it was successful. Students did well on assessments for the individual topics. I’ve already decided for next year I would do a bit more “flipping” choosing certain topics to do this with. I joined the Flipped Classroom Network (http://vodcasting.ning.com/) to keep up with other teachers flipping their classroom. After students watched a vodcast I would assess them on their work the next day. I did this before and it worked. However, I would like to enhance the vodcasts by adding an activity/lab after they watch and answer questions on the vodcast. I also would like to improve the format of the vodcast.
What didn’t work; seating arrangements. Didn’t even hesitate with that one. I had changed my seating arrangement at the beginning of the school year. In all my classes I found out that the students were distracted from their work when they were seated in groups. Students had a tendency to stray off course when trying to accomplish certain tasks. The group seating arrangements worked well with Whiteboarding, but on other tasks there were difficulties. To see if it really was the seating arrangement, I put the seats back to their original arrangement. It worked, students seemed to work better and stay on task more. Some of the students even admitted to me that they preferred the original seating arrangement. Why am I sharing this? Well just a minor “thing” such as seating arrangements can change the atmosphere of the class. I ‘m sharing this so others may see that change sometimes is not always what your class needs. It really does depend on the class.
But isn’t that the way you find out what works and what doesn’t? You need to try new “things” in class. I did, I changed up some of the labs and activities in class and found some worked and others didn’t. Students became my feedback, I would always have students complete a formative assessment to see if the activity worked or not. With the new science standards being developed (http://www.nextgenscience.org/), I decided that next year I would have to change some of the activities, taking these new standards into account. I fully understand that they are in their draft version, however I think using them to incorporate some new material would be good practice. As time goes on I will probably write more about the new standards.
I’m always willing to implement new activities and labs. Students gain more interest in STEM topics when they are engaged in their work.