Rather it is troubleshooting technology, classroom management, or enhancing differentiated instruction, we all have strategies that work for us and may help a new teacher.
Please share a tip that you use to help your students be more independent in the classroom. Thank you.
I am a middle school technology teacher and treat my students with respect. Why? Because students are highly into technology, and they can teach me a few things! So it is a win-win situation. I teach them, they teach me.
With this concept in mind, my students have a feeling of high esteem and accept their role as a collaborator/facilitator in my computer lab. With this freedom to explore and share comes the feeling independence to forge forward and enhance the classroom and their peers to where it is a learning community of creativity/collaboration/communication/innovation/critical thinking/problem solving. Do these concept ring a bell? You got it...........the 21st Century Skills.
I teach grown ups and I apply the same attitude that Kingston does...I respect the teachers I work with for their knowledge and skills. I may have something to teach them about technology but they always have something to teach me about their classrooms and their kids. We learn together how they can best use the tools to engage and challenge their students and we reflect on how they can integrate the NETS into their practice to make sure they are preparing their students for the future.
I really like your emphasis on respect for those you teach and your statement about learning together. I think those are two important keys to success in the classroom for both the students and the teacher. Respect goes both ways and as the old saying goes, "You get respect when you give respect!"
I continue to view myself as a lifelong learner. As a teacher, I always learned new ideas, technologies, etc. from my students.
Making sure all students' views are heard and appreciated builds self-assurance and character which helps raise students' self-esteem and independence.
My summer professional development activities have included exploring resources for classroom management and helping students be independent. Here are 2 articles by Alfie Kohn that address ways that classrooms can become more responsive environments:
In addition, there is a (new for me) technology tool – Class Dojo – Link- http://www.classdojo.com/about. This allows teachers to keep an accurate record of student behaviors during class time and organizes this data so that it not only helps the teacher with grading but also can be shared with parents.
Has anyone used Class Dojo? I look forward to exploring it with my groups this year.
One more way that students gain independence is through workshop models for reading and writing...also keeping supplies central and handy for all to use is a helpful tip.
Middle school science students:
We just need to allow them the freedom to explore and build their knowledge.
Thanks, Bud, for providing information about Scitable. It appears to have a wealth of information that will benefit middle school science students.
Is there a particular activity or lesson that you have used from this site that you would like to share?
Scitable is a library of scientific writings that students can access, at least that is how I use it. I include one of its articles from time to time in their reading list, encouraging my students to learn to read for information found in more technical writings. This is an art in itself. Some of our middle school students need to stretch and they can find other young writers here to learn from. This is just one of many resources I use to recommend scientific writings that can differentiate the background learning that my students bring to classroom discussions.
While looking around your site I found another valuable resource, Science Updates by ScienceNetLinks. I will be adding this library of current news topics to my suggested readings as appropriate. I like the fact that students can hear the text and there is a transcript to follow along with. And then there seems to be some guidance and questions. Not quite as technical, I have many students who will benefit from these selected news topics.
They have learned that each of them is responsible for extending the classroom learning. And once they like a resource, they tend follow their own personal learning path. That is when I feel I have really succeeded as a teacher.
I like assignments where students can "run with it". Many students now have smartphones or access to digital cameras. My students do a unit on digital photography. They look for shapes or colors or people, that address the theme their small group pre-selects. They take digital photos from various angles and discuss which photos highlight their theme best. Then they organize their art show. Photos are matted, grouped for eye appeal, and posted in the library. Other teachers have found ways to use these "shows" for creative writing assignments. I intend to do this project again this year.
I really like your assignment having students use digital photography for their art show project. I was the yearbook adviser for a high school, and I required a digital photography project so students would learn how to take pictures that told stories. For the project assessment, I used a detailed rubric.
Thanks, Eleanor, for giving us information about your photography assignment. Good luck with this year's project!
I assign a creative research project on an historical person each year. Students are required to collect important facts, but instead of writing an essay they are to present the material to the class in the role of the person. They make costumes and bring unique items their historical figures would have used. I encourage students to be entertaining and humorous while striving for historical accuracy.
Harold, this is a wonderful way to make history "come alive." Even students who are uncomfortable and nervous in front of a group usually like this type of assignment because they are pretending to be someone else. In addition to fostering creativity, this idea helps students gain confidence and perform individually.
I used the "3 before me" rule that I learned in one of the Kagan Cooperative Learning sessions I attended. It was very effective with 6th graders. Many times the flow of instruction was interrupted with questions like, "may I borrow a pencil?" or "may I change my font color and size?". This rule allowed a student to ask three people before asking the teacher his/her question. Students continued learning and my attention was given to answer more difficult questions and concerns.
Do you move around the classroom answering your students' every question immediately?
Sometimes letting your students think about their problem without your immediate response empowers them to think logically, ask relevant questions, and try innovative solutions.
I used to give problems in math with three hints. Students were to only read a hint if they couldn't do the problem. First hint was suggestive, second hint was directive, and the third hint was a how to. The important thing to recognize here was a student decided for himself if/when he wanted to read a hint.
What other strategies have you used to help your students be independent in the classroom?
I really liked the suggestions made in the article "How to create a student-centered digital classroom" published by Mark Barnes in eClassroom News August 27, 2013. Barnes commented that it's a challenge for a teacher to create a student-centered classroom but the end result is amazing. He encourages teachers to guide learners in mastering the necessary skills to work independently on interactive lessons and ongoing projects that require web tools.
Does independent learning increase student motivation?
I sometimes give my Adult Literacy Student a choice of what assignment he'd like to do next. I teach spelling, reading, and writing activities to help my student improve his reading and writing. I think independent learning helps increase student motivation because then the student feels partly responsible for his learning.