Friday, November 21, 2014

Voices from the Classroom: Using Schoology for Student Reflection

The Office of Instructional Technology has had the pleasure of working with extraordinary teachers throughout the Cherry Creek School District.  We decided that we would launch "Voices from the Classroom" as a way to highlight innovative teaching and learning from the teachers themselves, in their own words.  

We're kicking off the new blog segment with Sean Vair and his "Vairy" impressive lesson utilizing Google Forms and Schoology as a way to facilitate student reflection connected to Student Learning Outcomes.   Sean has been teaching Science since 2004.  He received his Masters in Educational Technology at Grand Canyon University. He currently teaches at Fox Ridge Middle School where he serves as the Science Coordinator and is a leader within the CCSD STEM Cohort.   

Using Schoology for Student Self-Reflection
Written by Sean Vair 

I have spent the last couple of years at Fox Ridge Middle School trying to discover how to use Schoology to make my class run more smoothly and help both the students and myself reflect on the learning that is happening during class.  I started, as many of us have, by posting a calendar and various materials that my students and their parents could use to determine what we were doing in class.  I then discovered the possibilities of submitting assignments and have not touched a piece of paper for homework since.  My most recent exploration was to figure out how to use the test and quiz option to help reflect on the student’s knowledge of the content based on the standards.

This exploration started by doing some research into suggested ways to encourage self-reflection.  We came across the article, “Self-Monitoring Tools and Student Academic Success: When Perception Matches Reality” published in the Journal of College Science Teaching.   This article talks about working with the students to help them connect their perception of how well they know the content to the score that they receive on the final assessment.

The article had some great suggestions about self-reflection at the end of the unit, but did not have much about how to start out the unit.  This is where Schoology comes into our plan.  We started out by looking at the standards and the questions that are provided in our textbook’s question bank and creating a quiz that consisted of questions that would test the student’s proficiency at a very basic level.  We then uploaded this into a question bank on Schoology and aligned each question to one or more of the six standards we will be covering during this unit.  

The next step was to create a way for students to record their initial perception of their understanding of the standards.  We created a Google Form that asked the students to rate their proficiency of the standards on a scale of 1-10.  This was uploaded to Schoology as a link so the students could access everything in one place.  

Finally, we created a reflection on Schoology using the Test/Quiz option.  We used the Test/Quiz option so the students could complete everything right on Schoology rather than having to use an outside source such as Google Drive and submit it.  The reflection had 6 multiple choice questions and 2 short answer/essay questions.  The multiple choice questions simply ask the students to compare their original prediction to the score that they received on the pretest.  The Mastery link on Schoology allows students to be able to see the percentage of questions they answered correctly in each standard so they have something to compare their predictions to.  The final questions ask, “What can you do to become proficient in the standards above?” and, “How will you know when you are proficient in the standards above?”  These questions were meant to make the students think about what they can do, aside from learning the content in class, to improve their own learning.

The answers that we received showed that the students spent time reflecting on their own learning and varied from “take more and better notes” to “explore outside sources to enhance my learning”.  Most students were able to provide an answer that, if followed, will definitely increase their understanding of the content.

The following video shows the lesson above in the order that the students would complete it along with some extra samples of answers from the students.

Future plans for this unit are to include more standards aligned activities and quizzes which will allow students to follow their own progress on the standard.  We are also discussing the possibility of creating pretests that include multiple levels of proficiency for each standard so we can begin to have student selected differentiation of the lessons we complete in each unit.

Our deep thanks and appreciation to Sean Vair for being our first "Voice from the Classroom."

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