Part of an academic education is producing a product that demonstrates learning. Whenever something is produced, whether on paper or on a device, it is important that students are given feedback and that we use the assignment in purposeful ways.
I was reminded of the importance of celebrating digital work recently when a teacher informed me she was planning on printing out Completion Certificates for the program, Imagine Math Facts! The fact that she was firstly aware of which students were receiving such an achievement and secondly that she was going beyond holding them accountable and actually celebrating their hard work demonstrates that her students are doing purposeful work on their devices. This is clear because they are not just being held accountable for the work they are doing on their iPads, but they are being celebrated for demonstrating their learning.
Looking at the Reports
With all of the online programs – Achieve3000, ImagineLearning, ScootPad, TenMarks, Illuminate, and others depending on your grade level, it is up to us to make sure that the time our students are spending on their devices is helping them progress. When academic time is not viewed as purposeful by our students, they are more less likely to recognize the importance of the assignment which will create an increase in off task behavior.
So, take time to see what your students are doing online by logging in to your teacher account and viewing the reports and seeing how the students are scoring on the assignments you are pushing out. This could be done during your team collaboration time – each grade level looks at data during their weekly collaboration. The work our students are doing on their devices could be part of this as well.
Giving Feedback for Digital Work
When students receive feedback, it helps them develop their thinking as students. They build skills in reflecting as well as purposeful practice. Both of these skills will become habit the more they do them. The feedback given should be individualized based on the learner and work to support them as they progress towards mastery of a subject area.
- Rubrics: share your expectations of an assignment and give students feedback so they can grow throughout the academic process
- Progress: share where they started in a particular objective or learning goal and demonstrate how they have grown toward that goal
- Weekly Reports: communicate with your students so they know how they are doing academically
- Peer Grading: give your students a different audience, allow them to give and receive feedback from other.
Pulling Small Groups
Sometimes, when we look at the data of our online programs, we begin to recognize that there are learning gaps or areas where more practice is needed. We may also begin to recognize that there are certain areas where some students may be ready for an additional challenge. It is during this reflection on data that we can use the digital reports from our online programs and apps to create purposeful small groups based on the needs of each learner.
Sometimes a quick check-in with students can make a world of a difference in their effort and focus. While you are transitioning between small groups, a conversation with a few students who have been working on their iPad devices can help you understand whether or not they recognize the purpose of the digital task.
- What have you learned while using this program?
- How does this relate to you?
- How do you know that you are being successful?
- How does this connect to your learning?
Ask them anything else that you feel would support them as they are working on digital programs and using their devices. These check-ins help our students remember that we care about what they are learning and we are here to help them grow academically and socially.
Coordinating Socratic Seminars
A Socratic Seminar is a discussion based on a task or reading where open-ended questions are discussed. When you notice a majority of the learners in your classroom are working on a complex text or on a complex assignment, holding a Socratic Seminar can give them another way to demonstrate their learning. This can be done with digital learning after the class has completed a shared assignment that lends itself to an open and on going discussion.
For more information on Socratic Seminars, visit Read Write Think by clicking this link.
Assigning Exit Tickets
Sometimes, we have online programs and apps that are being used as “May Dos” where the students have a choice on what their task is. In these academic circumstances, it may not be feasible to see a report, hold a discussion, or even use the work to create differentiated assignments for the future. When this is the case, the students should still recognize that their work is purposeful. You can have them complete an Exit Ticket where they explain two things they learned and one question they still have about their online learning.
The responses from students can be used to gauge the purpose of the time they spent on the program or app. If students are repeatedly asking the same questions, it can be a sign that this concept should be retaught amongst the whole group. If students are sharing that they are not learning anything, it means that the purpose of the program or app should be reconsidered and, when possible, assignments need to be adjusted.
I encourage you to ask the learners in your classroom community:
How do you know that the work you are doing is purposeful?
Whether it is an online app, program, reading task, assignment, or academic learning without the support of technology, students should always recognize the purpose. We do need to hold students accountable for their learning, but this does not mean simply give them a grade and move on. It means taking time to reflect on the reports from our digital resources, talk with our teams, and use the information we get from these reports to better support each individual learner in our class.