Week 11: What are my challenges and successes in implementing my unit?

It is Friday evening, and it was the fourth day of my linear regression unit.  In a nutshell, it was a great week.  We are about half way into the unit and the students are learning quite a bit about scatter plots, association, and how to calculate correlation of two variables.  First off, I actually made a significant change this week to my unit.  I commented on other people’s blogs recently that I had a class set of “clickers”, which is a wireless, interactive, student response system.  I’ve had it for several months, but have not made an effort to use them.  In part because of my inexperience with them, basically have not used anything like it at all.  Well, I’m glad I did.  I made a commitment to use them in my unit as a formative assessment tool, and so I Googled it and came across a 1-hour YouTube video of a great introduction, explanation, and description of how to use them.  It is quite an amazing piece of technology.

I began my unit on Tuesday by administering a pretest of the standards I was addressing for my unit.  I didn’t realize until later that the test was a poor indicator of what I wanted the students to know for their final summative assessment.  It was basically a pre-made test by the textbook company and it didn’t necessarily cover all the standards I wanted to test students on at the end.  It has some, but not all.  I felt bad and almost assessed the students the next day on a better test.  I admit it was my fault for not carefully reviewing the test to see it covered all the standards I wanted my students to be proficient in.,

In any case, on Wednesday I got through about a quarter of the material of my unit.  That night was the night I made that commitment to use the clickers.  I then created a short quiz with a handful of multiple choice questions via textbook data base file.  I was very cognizant of the questions I chose to make sure they were reflective of the standards this time!  Thursday at the beginning of class, I told my students I was going to have them use the clickers to answer some questions to see evidence of learning from the day before.  It was possible to have students answer the questions without me knowing who answered correctly/incorrectly.  The proper software term for this mode was “anonymous”.  I wanted to make sure there was no stress for answering incorrectly when I reviewed their answer choices.  Success!  With the exception of one question, all the students answered the questions correctly, 100%!  It was awesome, and I was able to show the students a pie graph of the results after each question.  After this formative assessment, I began teaching the next section and got about half way through the unit by the end of the period and assigned problems that students could choose which ones they wanted to work on.

Later on Thursday night, I made another short formative assessment to use with the clickers Friday at the beginning of class again to measure their learning from the previous day.  Well, this time there wasn’t as perfect scores as the day before, which was good because I now knew that there were some holes and misconceptions of the concepts.  Again, I made sure the questions were measuring the standards I would test them at the end.  After the test, we talked about how mistakes/misconceptions were made.  It was a good time to correct those misconceptions.  We discussed and questioned each other, and some students admitted that they made a mistake.  I didn’t expect this or wanted them to admit to their mistakes, but it was nice to see them take charge of their learning and admit to failure and want to do better next time.

The rest of the period Friday was dedicated to finishing their assignment problems and they interacted and discussed until the end of the period.  I will make another formative assessment to use with the clickers Monday morning to see if they improve from the previous assessment.

I really like these clickers. It was funny cause the students asked me if I ever used Kahoot because they thought it was better.  Well, they admitted that the reason they did is because you can determine the top scorers after an assessment.  I guess some of them are really competitive!  I told them I know about it, and that some of my classmates from UAS use them in their class.  My students think that only one teacher uses them at our high school, and they think it’s more fun than clickers.  One of them mentioned that I should develop a self-paced assessment with the clickers because they don’t feel like waiting for others to answer before moving on to the next question.  WOW, how about that for telling a teacher to differentiate more!  Like I said, it was a great week…

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2 thoughts on “Week 11: What are my challenges and successes in implementing my unit?

  1. Glad to hear your week went so well (particularly given the concern you expressed)! I think it’s great when our students start telling us how they prefer to learn, the tools they prefer, and then provide options for differentiation. Further, as digital natives, they are often able to teach us ways to use our chosen technologies that we had, ourselves, not considered. 😉 They’re pretty amazing and I love that we can learn just as much from them as they do from us. Given how well the week is going, do you think differentiation is something you’ll embrace moving forward?

    One thing you bring up that I think is something we don’t stress often enough is the absolute need for assessment to be aligned. I used to find it tedious and painstaking when I worked in a district that required us to align every test question to one or more state standards, but after I’ve spend more time studying backwards design, I’ve seen that it works, particularly given that we’ve all likely been in classes where we felt blindsided by an exam. You know that class – the one where you studied everything the professor recommended and painstakingly poured over the notes, practiced the assignments, etc. only to find a test that looked nothing like the class delivery. Once you realize how well UbD works, it makes sense to set your objectives based on your standards, develop your assessment, and then make sure the activities and work in the course get students to a point that they’re mastering those objectives. While some may think this is “teaching to the test,” really, if the test is aligned to your standards, you’re teaching for mastery.

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  2. Happy to hear you had a good week. I too have been avoiding using our school’s set of clickers. Number one, there’s only one set in the building and another teachers loves using them. Number two I have no idea how to use them and I’ve been avoiding trying to learn how, under the guise that I have too much other stuff to do. After hearing of your students comments about Kahoot, I may skip the clickers altogether and go directly to teaching myself how to use it instead. Again, glad to hear things are going well.

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