Friday, October 14, 2011

Student Response

What is optimal student response?  What response actions and methods best motivate, support and promote student learning, voice and inquiry?

I've been thinking about this topic lately.  I'm sure there's lots of research out there related to this, and I have yet to start digging for facts and details.

I'm starting this inquiry by thinking about the ways I currently respond to students.  I'm wondering if your response types are similar or different. These are the main ways I respond to students at this time.

Email/Social Network
Students are able to email me via my school email or our closed classroom social network.  I encourage students to email me for clarity about assignments and ideas related to school topics, discussions and projects. I find that students use this system well, and I also find that it eliminates time for these questions during the school day.  Further, I find that students are more relaxed since they have easy access to my response if they're confused, anxious or excited about a learning topic or effort.

ePortfolio Response
It's easy to read students' writing and respond on their ePortolios.  I try to read their reading letters once a week and leave a response that includes direct answers and comments related to the content of the letter as well as a few writing tips for future letters. I keep a response check-list to note points related to future teaching and reading work.

Project Response
Last year, I responded to projects with a letter to the child written on a Google doc.  In the letter I highlighted exemplary aspects of the project, questions and targets to think about related to future project work.  I plan to do the same this year.  I generally do not accept projects that don't meet all the criteria and work with students until the completion point.

Assessment Response
Generally I respond to assessments with a fraction of how many questions were answered correctly vs. the total number of points available.  I note points for future teaching and avenues to relearn or review material that was challenging. I'll also note efforts related to a child's success or challenge on the test in an effort to tie learning behavior to performance.  If everyone does poorly, I'm quick to point out that I have to revisit the teaching related to that topic because if everyone is challenged, it's really the instructor that's failed.

Generally my class is run in a workshop style.  We start with a topic introduction and exemplars, then move to a menu of activities for interactive learning.  During the workshop students have check-in points for a teacher conference (short or long). During conferences I converse with the student about what they're doing that really works for the problem or project, and what efforts they still need to work on.  I'll do some reteaching or new teaching at these conferences too.

I use our social network blog to check in on students' learning related to specific, targeted content and learning actions. I respond to students on the blog by pointing out examples and stories that match our learning well as well as providing links and questions to prompt greater inquiry and learning.

Overall, I think of learning as an ongoing conversation between students and teachers--a back-and-forth related to learning specific actions, concepts, content and skills.  How do you respond to your students? What types of responses do you think are most effective with regard to promoting academic growth and development?  What's your frequency of response like? What kinds of responses did you profit most from as a child? Thanks for letting me know as I continue to think about and research this topic.