Reflecting on “The Classroom Experiment”

“We still struggle to keep everyone engaged”

The classroom experiment is about making changes and trying different strategies to improve schools and tackle the struggle to get students engaged. There are many interesting approaches taken and responses to them. At first students and teachers both struggled to embrace the changes, but over time some ideas were warmed up to.

One of the most interesting changes was when teachers held back grades and instead focused on giving feedback first. Many students didn’t know what to do without grades and did not understand how the feedback worked. It is sad that schools have become so fixed on grades. I think that it is something that the students need to be warmed up to and included in. If students are too used to only looking at a grade, then we need to teach them how to interpret and use the feedback they’re given. I believe that with this the idea of continuous learning will be better supported.

I liked the idea of using stoplight cups and whiteboards to check for student understanding. I felt like the cups gave students control and some level of self-assessment. They would be helpful in letting the teacher know who needs help just by a quick check and they would allow students to consider and voice their level of understanding. The whiteboards are another way to give students a voice. I would worry about doodles, but I don’t think it would be as much of an issue if student engagement was being supported in other ways (ex. inquiry). Additionally, all learners learn differently, and as long as it’s not a distraction, I don’t think it’s an issue. Students could show their learning or bring up concerns with a quick whiteboard check. I don’t think either would cause too much controversy.

The Popsicle sticks did receive a lot of mixed feedback in the videos and in my personal discussions with others. I can see the positives and the negatives. On one hand, it does present the opportunity for all students to be engaged in discussion and, as the video said, people who do partake in discussion are learning more. On the other hand, it puts students on the spot and was an issue for many teachers and students. I am typically a quiet student myself and haven’t liked to force students to speak, but I can see how the sticks could encourage engagement. I don’t know if I would use it myself or if their is an adjusted version that could work better.

All in all, I found this experiment interesting and it has made me consider many different techniques and how I might encourage engagement in my own classes.

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