Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shell Shocked

Yesterday, we had our last day of "let's play with technology" before diving in to the actual curriculum of the course. With a new hub in the classroom, the students made more headway in their online activities: completing a Learning Style assessment, learning about their primary learning styles, and learning how to use Google Docs. They also completed a survey on the types of activities from which they learn best, to help me put together my list of resources for them.

Today's class found me both nervous and extremely excited - this is what I had been planning for all summer: weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out the best way to approach BYOD and how to implement self-directed learning. I can't remember being this excited to try something new in the classroom in a very long time.

I presented them with the learning goals for the unit (ten of them). This included:

  • having students rate themselves Red, Yellow or Green for each goal, depending on what they felt they knew of the material before we start the unit (they will repeat this again at the end);
  • presenting the students with a tracking sheet and calendar, to keep track of where they are in the grand scheme of the unit;
  • providing the students, through the course webpage, with the link to the Google Doc that I'm keeping to provide them with the resources to learn the material;
  • giving them a deadline for the unit: they have until Sept. 27 to master all the goals (there will be a unit test on that date).

The "master list" (found here), gives the students ways to learn the material for each goal, practice the material, and then show that they know the material. [The document is a work in progress, as I work through the logistics of this for the first time. Comments and suggestions are welcome!!] If the exit slip demonstrates they have mastered the learning goal, they are permitted to move on to the next one. If not, we sit down, review, and practice some more until we're ready to try again. Everything within the unit is flexible, with the exception of Sept. 27.

This is so new to so many of the students, that many of them didn't know where to begin. Do we have to hand in everything on that list? Are our marks based only on tests? We don't have to do homework? Can I see the exit slip before I do any of the work? Can't you just teach us?

It was a frantic class of troubleshooting technology, trying to encourage those who were reluctant (I received several firm comments of "I don't learn on my own" and "I can't do math"), keeping the volume reasonable, and checking in with as many students as possible to see if they found the document, knew were they were going, etc. 

Several of them gathered around for a mini-lecture, while a couple of others worked through some of the online resources (we had trouble loading the videos - another thing to add to the troubleshooting list), and one or two grabbed a textbook. But the majority of them did... very little. Three students were ready to take the first exit slip at the end of class... two will be allowed to move forward. I felt shell shocked. With all these resources at our disposal, how were we not able to get more done?

I'm hoping tomorrow will be better, more organized, more productive. We'll go over again how to use the master list, how to access the various resources for help, how to take advantage of their personal learning style, and I'll remind them that they can do it. I'm hoping this gets easier (for them and for me) as we fall into routine and as they experience success.


  1. I'm excited you started blogging right in the midst of this new endeavor! I find myself getting lost in talking heads and great ideas as I'm learning, and I'm glad to find an "in the trenches" perspective.

    1. Thanks, Anna! There are so many fantastic ideas out there, but the implementation is never as easy as it looks in PD :) I know this will be a great learning environment once my students and I figure it all out.


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