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Student Ownership

As I wandered the halls of the Birkett Freshmen Center this week, I felt thankful to have the opportunity to split my time between this building and the main building. The energetic spirit of the freshman building is contagious; it has been a pleasure visiting classrooms and witnessing student learning and engagement.

In most of the classrooms, desks are set up as collaborative pods or groups which provide a welcoming environment immediately upon entering. Teachers are teaching, students are listening, and students are working together in order to solve a problem, create a question, or complete an activity. 

When I walked into Joe Polanski's AP Human Geography class, students were working in groups of 4 on their Chromebooks and appeared to be deep in conversation about the topic at hand. Mr. Polanski was utilizing the Question Formulation Technique, and each student in the group had a role: (1) Question Writer, (2) Advantage/Disadvantage Writer, (3) Reflection Writer, (4) Reporter. With this technique, students are given a QFocus - information about a topic - and from there, they have to generate questions based on the QFocus. After creating a list of as many questions as possible, they then have to evaluate, categorize, revise, prioritize, and share their top questions with the class. Students were collaborating, communicating, and critically thinking. It was awesome!! Since the students visited the Sandwich Fair this week, their QFocus was about the Fair, and the questions they generated would later be used in a Google + Community dedicated to the field trip. Students could access the community while at the fair in order to view the questions, provide answers, and learn from their classmates' responses. Student ownership at its best...boom! 

In another hallway, Jaci Smolinski's Spanish 2 classes were busy working through a HyperDoc that asked them to review Spanish 1 materials. In addition, the HyperDoc required them to set up their international keyboard on the Chromebook, an option that is super beneficial in a language course. The classroom dynamic was impressive, as students worked at their own pace to either complete the HyperDoc on their Chromebooks, complete another activity on paper, or review/reflect on the work they completed. Also, Ms. Smolinski explained to me that her department has utilized video assessment resources like Recap and Flipgrid in order to assess speaking and pronunciation skills. We discussed how much easier it becomes to evaluate student speaking skills without having to take away too much class time in order to meet with each student. Similar to Joe's social studies classroom, students were taking control of their learning and being asked to complete various tasks that promoted collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. 

It is clear that our teachers are working hard in every classroom to do what's best for students and providing awesome learning experiences! #whatsup