What tools might provide me insight into the learners in my classroom and how might I use this information?
This is just the beginning of my response to this question, as I will inevitably find more tools to help me understand my students better. What I currently do to gain initial insight into my students learning styles, interests, and intelligence strengths and weaknesses is to give them a paper pencil survey that I have created. I also conference with students and have periodically had students take online surveys for learning modalities.
Reflecting on this question I feel I have not been gathering an adequate amount of data about my students. When I taught Elementary students I used these types of information gathering tools much more than I currently do at the Middle School level. I have found many online tools and resources as well as articles related to understanding students better, which are listed at the bottom of this response. I am amazed at the enormous amount of resources available, the structure of this class really is providing more resources and ideas than I thought possible.
Surveys and similar tools are obvious tools to gain insight into my students. I have found numerous online surveys and survey creating websites such as http://www.surveymonkey.com/ to obtain information about students. I feel that teacher created surveys may often obtain more relevant information for concerning the teacher’s needs. Learning modality surveys I feel are very important because for example teachers may have a group of students that are more auditory learners because they come from a culture that values storytelling or visual because they are taught by their elders how to do things by watching.
Multiple intelligence data is very important to gather using: surveys, observations, conferences, etc… I believe every child has strengths in at least one intelligence and when we understand those strengths we can possibly build on them; possibly even strengthen some of the child’s weaknesses. To be fair to students we need to give them multiple avenues to demonstrate mastery.
Interest surveys are a great way to understand students better and to develop instruction that will motivate students to be engaged. There are many ways to teach many seemingly dry concepts by developing lessons that capture a student’s interest, especially when the instruction is culturally relevant.
Personality surveys are another tool that gives teachers information about student’s idiosyncrasies that can again help teachers to design instruction that is interesting and engaging for students. For older students I have used career surveys that helps students understand what learning paths they may be interested in, and can help teachers to design engaging instruction.
Using learning targets based on state standards where students reflect on their learning by filling out checklist with columns to check if they have mastered, are still working on, or have no knowledge is a very effective way for me to see how students. Using learning targets that students self assess really helps me to plan instruction as well.
Data from all these different sources helps me to differentiate instruction better, especially when my students have access to computers.
This week I have contributed by adding to the Wiki page, posting a few blog responses though not enough, participated in and checked the #diffimooc Twitter feed. I need to work on reading more research and related articles and contributing more articles.
Some links I found interesting.
Learning Targets/ Formative and Summative Assessment