Kids that would leave any worksheet blank are asking for more problems. It really has been a fantastic transformation in my class. The answer is immediate feedback to all students, not only the ones that will raise their hands and ask "is this right" has changed my classroom. They are working harder and doing more problems, they are trying and building confidence. Why? Because they know immediately if they have the problem correct. And they love it. Can we do this on the computer is always asked.
After some confidence is gained there is still so much value in getting them able to do the work on paper. And being able to finish something that they started is so valuable (even with out the feedback.) But getting to that point has been so much easier in my Algebra 1 classroom with the help of the computers and two simple, free, online programs.
Three words seem to be dancing around in my head of late when it comes to current thinking about education: “personalization,” “engagement” and “flip.” We don’t need personalization as much as we need to promote and give opportunities for our kids to do personal learning. And while they come from the same root, those two words are vastly different. In a world where we can explore almost every interest or passion in depth on our own or with others, it’s crucially more important to have the dispositions and the skills to create our own educational opportunities, not be trained to wait for opportunities that someone else has selected for delivery.
It used to be so much simpler. When asking a student to display mastery of some material, a professor would ask for a 10 page paper. The student would research the topic, type up the contents, maybe include an image or graph, add the bibliography, and turn the paper in. The professor would walk out of class with a stack of papers to grade. This was all so predictable.
Well, not any more. The opportunities for displaying mastery are probably limited most by the professor’s imagination more than either the students’ abilities or the technical tools. Here I will go through some of the ideas for new types of projects that have crossed my mind recently as I have been planning my courses.