Edmodo – The students and parents seem to really like this as a communication tool. I send links and documents during class. At some point in the day (usually during my conference period) I send a note reminding them what needs to be completed before the next meeting. After our last class activity I sent a poll to determine what part of the assignment was most difficult. That was very helpful to discover where they were struggling with their mental models. I sent out a joke on Friday – no one commented – maybe it was too cheesy????
Pedagogically, knowing that anyone, anywhere may be viewing my videos is making me really think about what I am saying and doing. Since when is that a bad thing? I spent 2 ½ hours making the 11 minute video – Two hours creating the content, reviewing the material, evaluating its purpose – then ½ hour actually making the video. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I would have invested that much effort if I knew no one outside my classroom would have seen the lesson.
Google forms – The biggest surprise of the week. After the students watched my first video they were required to answer three short questions in a form linked by a button located just below my video on my website. The main purpose was for accountability – to ensure they watched the video. I also wanted them to reflect on what they had just seen and heard. I asked three simple questions:
1) Summarize what they had just seen using between 150-250 words.
2) Describe their “inner voice” as they watched the video.
3) Ask any questions they might have after watching the video.
I have to say I was amazed at the quality of the responses I received. I not only learned what they got from the lesson, their questions and inner voice comments gave me some incredible insights into their prior knowledge, attitudes, and overall thinking. All responses are time stamped so I also learned something about student study habits and when they do their homework.
Probably the most beneficial result of the form was that I knew what the students’ answers were on the same evening they submitted them. Think about that – I knew before school the next day what they were thinking and how they needed help. That is incredibly powerful formative assessment. And I gathered the information from the comfort of my favorite chair while watching television with my wife – how cool is that?
Doing physics – My students almost didn’t know how to act when I had them at the lab tables with cool stuff everywhere. I noticed there was a perceptible degree of discomfort – they were expecting me to spend the day lecturing at them. By Friday they were manipulating data, graphing, and identifying parent formulas for graphs – in groups. They then had to share their work with others and answer questions. It was fun seeing them struggle with their own mental models (in this case I believe conflict is good).
Overall I think I had a fantastic first week and gained some trust with my students. I look forward to seeing if the success continues.