The Classroom Experiment

I really enjoyed this video.  I thought it was really interesting to see these ideas in action, and how the students and teachers experimented with these strategies.

The first strategy that was implemented was the popsicle sticks with students names on them.  I thought this was such a good idea.  I was surprised to see the kids get so frustrated over the popsicle sticks.  The students who were used to always answering the questions would get frustrated when they weren’t chosen, and the students who never put their hands up, were scared to get picked.  I thought the idea of pulling two popsicle sticks at a time was a really good idea.  That way, the students have someone else to rely on if they don’t know the answer.  I think this is a strategy that I would definitely try in my internship in the fall.

Next, was the whiteboards.  I thought this was neat, because it gave every student a chance to answer, without being outed by everyone else.  One problem that could arise from the whiteboards, is students doodling, or writing irrelevant or inappropriate comments on the whiteboards.  I think before introducing the whiteboards, I would discuss with the students how beneficial the whiteboards can be when used properly.  I would explain like one of the teachers did in the video that if a student is misbehaving with the whiteboard, he/she loses their privilege to participate in class discussions.

Another strategy that was introduced was doing Physical Activity first thing in the morning.  I was really surprised that Dylan asked the students and teachers to be there 30 minutes before school started to participate in physical activity, and that they actually showed up.  I think this is a great idea, but I’m not too sure how I feel about requiring students to be there earlier than when they are supposed to be.  I also thought it kind of seemed like a lot of work for ten minutes of physical activity.  The teacher spent quite a bit of time in the beginning reminding the students to change and get into the gym so they could begin.  Therefore, by the time students changed and attendance was finished, they only had roughly ten minutes left before school started.  Though I think daily physical activity is a great idea, I would try to find other ways to incorporate it into the day.  For example, one school I did my ECS 100 field experience at had 5 minutes of movement every 45 minutes.  Each classroom had two or three leaders that would lead the students through movement exercises for the duration of one song while it played over the intercom.  I thought it was a good idea.  It was good to see the school trying to get the kids moving, and I found even for me, it was a nice brain break.  I think it definitely added a bit of energy to the majority of the students.

Only adding comments as part of assessment was one strategy that I found interesting.  I usually enjoy comments and feedback, but in the end, it is the mark I care about.  However, I was so surprised how these students reacted.  The one girl was genuinely upset about not getting a grade, and another girl thought since she didn’t have many comments her work was perfect.  I also noticed the type of comments the students got.  One teacher had a rubric with comments, as opposed to numbers.  I noticed with that, the students were then comparing which comments were circled/highlighted, and interpreted that as part of their mark.  However, from what I saw, there were few personal comments about the students work, and more generic comments.

I thought when Dylan invited the parents to come and see the new changes to the school that was quite interesting.  It was apparent it made some parents feel uncomfortable when their popsicle sticks were drawn from the cup.  However, the one mom talked about how her daughter was so shy and quiet, but when her popsicle stick was drawn, she answered the question with confidence.  I thought that was awesome; to me, that just reaffirmed how positive the popsicle sticks can be for the quiet students who normally would be too shy to raise their hand to answer the question.

One strategy I thought was really interesting and seemed to work okay was the Secret Student.  I thought there was some positives and negatives with this strategy.  I thought it was neat how the teachers told the students when someone earned them a point, but never pointed out the person who didn’t get them a point.  I also liked how similar to the popsicle sticks, once that student was chosen, their name could still be chosen next time.  I thought once they picked a popsicle stick or secret student, that student wouldn’t be picked until everyone else was picked.  However, I liked how that student could be chosen again.  Though I really liked the idea of the secret student, I thought the reward was too much.  If I were to do this, I would have a much smaller reward, like pizza or dilly bars.  I think as long as the students are still motivated by secret student, any type of reward would work.

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One thought on “The Classroom Experiment

  1. Hi Anna,

    Reading this post made me very interested to watch the video you referenced. I have it saved to my desktop for future reference.

    I thought of some things as I read your post:
    -the popsicle sticks: I’ve done this in the past and it’s worked really well as a strategy not only to pick students to answer questions, but also to make groups and pick students to do jobs. This year, I’ve also found two apps for my iPhone: “Kid Picker” and “Pick a Student” (free or cheap from the app store) that do the same thing, but with a digital twist!). My students love pressing the button on what we call “The Randomizer” and the “Kid Picker” app actually keeps track of “correct” and “incorrect” responses and can build random groups of any size. Good time savers!
    -whiteboards: Love ’em! Years ago, I bought a huge slab of whiteboard at Home Depot and had them cut it into 1 foot by 1 foot squares for me. It really helps with quick answers in Language based classes and for doing work in Math, as the answers don’t feel as permanent for kids who may not feel terribly confident. I’ve also bought some from the Dollar Store, but I prefer the ones from Home Depot. It’s important to invest in good quality whiteboard markers, though! Don’t buy the cheapo ones, as they generally don’t work well and dry out quickly. Test them before buying a whole class set!
    -moving Gym to first period has made a HUGE difference to my students! They love having Gym at the start of the day and it helps us all to focus much better. As a school, we do a 1 km outdoor run in the spring and fall at the very start of the day. It’s GREAT! We also do periodic “Brain Gym” breaks throughout the day as needed.
    -at the Alternative School where I teach, we only give anecdotal assessment, not marks, so lots of rubrics and comments are the way things work!

    Let me know if you want any additional info on any of this!

    I love reading your blog!

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