We’ve had a busy last week and it took until the end of it to finally start feeling some continuity and flow around here. Student Goals Conferences on Wednesday aided to the feeling of disjointedness but I hope they were as valuable for you as they were for me. On Wednesday and I had a lot of great conversations with students, parents, and teachers. Many of those discussions came back around to things we’ve talked about before. If it wasn’t me saying it, then is was usually the other person in the conversation, something to the effect of “this is a good reminder of what we need to be doing.”
How easy it is for us to lose sight of things that we’ve previously viewed as priorities. At the beginning of the year we talked a lot about building positive relationships with our students, we’ve come back to this at various times throughout the year but it seems to be one of those things that we overlook or assume has already happened and therefore can be forgotten. However, those relationships don’t end…ever…especially when we are talking about teenagers!! In fact, it is probably even more crucial to focus on relationships when you consider the culture our students come from, one that is very social and relationship focused.
I was once again reminded of the importance of these relationships when I came across a great piece called “26 Research-Based Tips You Can Use in the Classroom Tomorrow”. I’m a huge fan of “ready to use” tools and these 26 tips are just that! Some of them may be more relevant to you than others but there are a few that I think everyone would really benefit from thinking about and prioritizing (for more information on these select examples, click the link above):
Tip #1: Focusing on building positive relationships by greeting students at the door and starting off with a positive comment, research indicates that it can improve student engagement by as much as 27%!!
Tip #3: We’ve talked before about the value of trying new classroom arrangements and making seating a priority for learning. The study referenced in “tip #3” discusses the benefits and disadvantages of different types of seating arrangements. However, most importantly, it points out that no matter the arrangement, when moving kids from the “back” to the “front” of the classroom their academic achievement increases. Obviously you can’t sit everyone in “front” all the time but consciously changing seating arrangements and groupings to rotate kids for their benefit can have a very positive impact.
Tip #12: The classic “turn and talk” strategy strikes again. In this ready to use tip we’re reminded that recalling and using information we’ve just learned can help us retain it. Have your kids briefly discuss new information shortly after learning it to help imprint it more solidly in their minds. Ever learned someone’s name and repeated it to yourself a few times…yup, you’re doing the same thing!
Tip #16: Do you ever have the feeling that your students think they understand something better than they actually do? Well, it’s true…most people actually experience this phenomenon. For more complex topics (research doesn’t show positive results for more basic concepts) have students think or write about their understanding of the topic, this could be a good “exit ticket” prompt. This will help them (and, in the case of the exit ticket, it will help you too) realize their gaps in the understanding…now the trick is getting them to fill in those gaps!!
Tip #20: I found this tip especially interesting. While many of these things felt like good reminders, this tip was new for me. Don’t put text on your PowerPoint Slides! The double input of reading and hearing the information creates something called “cognitive overload” and can prevent people from actually retaining the information. This article is very interesting and definitely worth exploring a bit more, especially if you’re a frequent PowerPoint presenter!
Tip #22: Lastly, and again something new for me, comes this tip that seems a bit like plain, old common sense. The use of multiple choice assessments may actually be causing your students to learn the wrong information. By presenting them with wrong answers to consider they may be internalizing those wrong answers as correct. Better to go with fill in the blank or short answer. While more time consuming to create and assess these will help your students better learn and recall important information.
Okay, my intention was to only share five tips but I got a little carried away (what’s new?!?) This article is definitely worth a look as the other 20 tips are also very helpful and applicable to many of your contexts.
I wrote recently about re-prioritizing and focusing our efforts on what is most important. This article is a helpful reminder about some of those things that may need to be prioritized in our classrooms. Take a look and see what will work for you. Just like the title of the article suggests, these are things you can start using tomorrow 🙂