Monday, September 14, 2015

First Cracks at Accountable Talk, Note-Taking, and Video Watching

I have some relatively significant goals this semester and have tried to get them going as early on as possible. I am going to try to reflect on them as often as I can to try to keep myself on task. Here are my thoughts after the first week:

Day 1: I set out to accomplish two things the first day of school. 1. Make use of Accountable Talk strategies to start to work on collaborative, effective discussions between students (student to student, not teacher to student) as I continue to seek a more student-centered classroom. 2. Start the semester off with someone that would make students want to come back tomorrow!

I created tent cards for student groups of desks to help introduce a variety of Accountable Talk strategies and tried to model a couple of them while I was introducing the ideas. So far students seem to have a mixed reaction to them. But I will continue to try to get them to focus on self-improvement in communication as a life skill, not just a classroom skill.

I used activities from Spark101 that were scientifically relevant and engaging to each course to use for the first day. Students seemed to have a lot of fun in those discussions and got to attempt to solve a real-life problem using their current knowledge and info shared in the video.

Day 2: Another goal for this year is to do a better job of helping students become better note-takers (and by extension, better at watching educational videos for my flipped class). I found a College Geek video that introduced effective strategies for note-taking and create a note-outline for students to use to take their first note (that was a model of the first strategy mentioned).

I also modeled a strategy for video watching by pausing thee video after each note-taking method was shared to allow them to record their thoughts/ideas. We also discussed pros and cons of each method and where different people might choose to use each one. I also stressed one of the lines in the video "You are a STUDENT, not a dictating machine!" and the importance of actually PROCESSING information while you are learning (so that you are learning not just writing down something to learn later).

This lead to a fun start to the next day because I got to show them some electronic note-taking apps and organizers. A couple of students have even started using a couple of the apps and trying one of the note-taking methods already!

Day 3: Continuing the goal of helping them become good video watchers (and needing to introduce them to one of my main reasons for switching to a flipped class) I had them watch a video as an entire class, while taking notes, without touching the pause button. The effective one was a Crash Course I picked for my Grade 10s to watch. He speaks pretty quickly in general and it was introducing some things that they did not know yet (but was related to something they did last year).

The frustration in the students was very evident. Some gave up entirely. Some were madly note-taking the whole time. Some gave me exasperated looks when I just smiled at them when they said "can't we pause???" Afterward we shared some feelings/adjectives to describe the experience and I promised them that they should NEVER have to feel this way again because their learning would be in their control. A point a used to remind them that this involves them communicating with me - a lot (I can't read your minds, really!) - if they do find themselves feeling this way again.

I think some of them were annoyed that the "note" ended up being futile, but most of them appreciated the resulting honesty and seemed to feel like they would be in the driver's seat in my course. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part though.

Day 4/5: I have now started to introduce students to watching educational videos individually and taking notes effectively. We are using class time to watch lessons at this point in the year and I am making sure they are taking notes and trying to give them feedback about the notes themselves. This is probably the hardest part for me...I do not feel like I am an expert myself. But I am trying. I am doing my best to encourage them to (at the very least) have examples/visuals when possible, and to show they processed by taking NOTES not recording every word.

My Grade 10s are being introduced to EduCanon right away so I am trying to use the embedded questions to get them to focus on important things and forcing them to pause at various points. Hopefully we can work together to pare back on my forced pauses by the end of the semester knowing that they will do it on their own. Fingers crossed.

Any advice/ideas/etc that you have for me on this topic would be greatly appreciated!

Still to come (i.e. something I have not started yet but hope/plan to) - student ePortfolios and reflections

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