Sunday, April 11, 2010

Innovative Ideas for Using Cell Phones for Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

Editor's note: This is just one in a series of posts focused on the nine instructional strategies that are most likely to improve student achievement across all content areas from the book Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock.

Setting objectives and providing feedback engage students in a metacognitive system of thinking. In other words, it provides students with knowledge about how they learn which is an effective instructional tool. Here are some ways that setting objectives and providing feedback can be enriched with the use of cell phones.

  • Classroom Practice in Goal Setting
    Research and theory on goal setting indicates that instructional goals narrow what students focus on, should not be too specific, and that students should be encouraged to personalize the teacher goals.
    • Subject: Science
    • Cell Phone Tool: Wiffiti
    • Topic: The Human Body
    • Lesson Overview: In this lesson students are studying the human body. Following the research-based strategy outlined in Classroom Instruction That Works, the teacher has provided general targets for students in the unit, but then asks students to personalize their goals. The teacher explains her goal is for them to understand how each of the main organs works individually as well as how they work together as a system. Then, each student develops their personal learning goals for which the teacher provides the sentence starters: "I want to know... and "I want to know more about..."

      This is an effective instructional strategy that can be enriched with the use of Wiffiti. To do this the teacher asks the students to text their personal learning goals to the Wiffiti bulletin board she has created for the class. This instantly enables the teacher and the class to see the type of personal learning goals students have. The value of this for students is 1) They may learn from their classmates new ideas to incorporate or ideas to modify 2) They may want to partner up with other students who share similar learning goals. The value for the teacher is that she can instantly get a big-picture view of her classes learning goals and also instantly see goals that may need modification.

      Near the close of the unit the teacher can set up a second Wiffiti board where students can share what they learned in relation to their learning goals. Students with similar goals should be encouraged to partner to share their answers. Not only is this beneficial in recognizing the learning of the class, but it also serves as a fantastic review of the unit and can provide for a great discussion prior to the end-of-unit assessment.
    • How technology enriches the lesson:
      • Posting learning goals to a Wiffiti board provides a great way to not only share learning goals across the class, but also is a great resource to share with parents/guardians at the start of a unit.
      • Sharing learning outcomes on a Wiffiti board provides a great way not only to help the students review what they learned as a class in the unit, but also is a terrific resource to share with parents/guardians at the end of a unit so they are filled in on their child's learning.
      • For a teacher this is nice because there are no papers to collect and she can see all student goals and learning at a glace.
      • For a student this is nice because they can easily learn from one another. Learning is no longer contained to each student only.,

  • Classroom Practice in Providing Feedback
    Research and theory on feedback indicates that feedback should be "corrective" in nature, timely, specific to a criterion, and that students can effectively provide some of their own feedback.

    • Subject: Social Studies / Environmental Science
    • Topic: Womens' Studies / A local environmental issue
    • Cell Phone Tool: Voki
    • Lesson Overview: This lesson combines both women's studies and environmental science using Voki's to engage students. In the lesson the teacher will let students work in pairs, threes, or fours and students in each group will select one figure they've studied as a part of women's history and will determine how she might help to address a local environmental issue i.e. developing school gardens, addressing the recycling issue in a local school or community, reversing pollution in a local river, pond, stream.

      Students will receive guidelines as to what they need to include in their answer and a rubric by which to assess their work. As students think about the environmental issue and select the historical figure, they will create a Voki using their cell phones to record the voice. The Voki will be created as though she was doing a one-minute public address and she will refer to her prior record and experience to explain how she will address today's issue. Because Vokis are designed so that others can comment, they provide a perfect tool for feedback. In this lesson student's, guided by the rubric will be asked to use the rubric to provide feedback on their own Voki (self-reflection), as well as feedback to others in their group (peer review). Ultimately the teacher will also provide feedback on each student's Voki. Students will have an opportunity to re-record their Voki based on the feedback they received. All Vokis will be placed on the page of an online space of the teachers choosing i.e. website, blog, wiki, ning. When all students have completed their projects students will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of ideas for addressing this local environmental issue and can be encouraged to comment on additional Vokis. Upon completion of this project the page can be sent to the person in charge of this project with a message stating something along these lines: "This is how students of our class feel women in history might have addressed this issue. We hope you will be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your work." The person who received this email and page from the school should be encouraged to leave comments on student Vokis. The result, a relevant, real, and meaningful learning experience for students.
    • How technology enriches the lesson:
      • Using a Voki provides a ready-to-go mechanism for students to provide reflective feedback from themselves, and to gather review from their peers. What's nice about this is it can be done anytime anywhere the student is ready to call Voki and enter the passcode associated with their Voki or comment.
      • Using a Voki provides a one stop option for teachers to listen to all student's ideas, reflections and peer review in one place.
      • Voki enables interested parties to access the information anytime/anywhere and respond. Inviting relevant stateholders to the site and encouraging them to comment will provide a meaningful experience for students.
      • The Voki page provides a strong home-school communication. It provides parents with a peak into what is going on in the classroom as well as what their students and others are doing. Upon completion of the project student's work can be shared and parents can be given guidelines and encouraged to comment.

Cell phones provide an effective way to support students in setting objectives and providing feedback. Stay tuned for future posts featuring other research-based strategies to engage students and increase student achievement.

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