Saturday, March 5, 2016

3 Reasons You Should Let Your Students Do Your Work (And the Tech You Can Use to Help)

Students creating their own materials
      As a veteran (my students would say old) teacher of 25 years, I am a huge proponent of not recreating the wheel.  In addition to that, any time I can save preparation time (which I don't get by contract) by having the students do it is a bonus.  This gives me back my lunch 20 minutes, which we just won in our last contract.  So, if you're like me, you are always looking for an instructionally appropriate way to have your students do your work.  Here are 3 reasons for you to do just that, and suggestions for the resources you need to accomplish it.  First let's discuss reasons:

     1) Time
                Teachers never have enough time.  Even if you have planning time, you don't have enough.  Releasing the responsibility for creating materials to the students means you are not spending that planning time organizing their learning, rather you are curating developmentally appropriate instruction to present.  Make the students responsible for their learning by making them responsible for the materials they use, rather than handing materials to them.

    2)  Differentiation
                I know, it has become one of those "faculty meeting bingo" words that administrators and professional development specialists have ruined by (excuse my language) bastardizing the poor innocent concept.  However, like many once great ideas that have been ruined by corporate greed and overuse - see also exit tickets, bell-ringers, and cooperative learning, it can be done well and is necessary because (news flash) kids are different, cannot be standardized, and learn at their own pace.  Having students create their own materials allows for each student to adjust the materials to their learning preference and needs, within guidelines and parameters that you as teacher can set.

    3)  Research (pay attention - here's the important one for your administrator!)
               Decades of research have shown students who can create/design/develop/formulate/construct (Bloom's revised taxonomy-top level.  See what I did there?) are functioning at the highest level of cognition.  It even has a name, the protege effect.  To take advantage of this, having the students develop their own materials, and materials for others, allows them to demonstrate their highest level of understanding in a concrete way.  It also frees up your planning time to make that call to Greg's mother about the incident with the dissection frog.  Fun times.

Now - the suggested resources, which will always be free.  I hate a tease, or a blog that suggests sites my district won't pay for.  I am neither of those.

    1)  For assessment recently I've been using Kahoot to have the students create quizzes for the class.  They enjoy the creation, and they enjoy playing the quizzes they and their classmates have created.

   2)   For collaborative work my students enjoy Padlet.  In February we created a Presidential Library, with interesting facts about our favorite presidents.  There is a paid version of Padlet, but I am using the free option quite successfully with all my classes.

   3)  For collaborative writing, we are creating stories in Boomwriter.  Currently our story has two chapters, and we are ready to write our third.  Personally I like the voting feature, where students choose the next chapter from peer submissions.

  BONUS SUGGESTION:  I just started using Classcraft for positive behavior support.  I cannot comment yet because we just started, but this will be the focus of a future may want to look at it yourself.

Let me know what you think of these resources, or if you have questions about how to encourage kids to take responsibility for their learning!

Out on a whim,


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