Monday, January 11, 2016

Refocusing my lessons to promote achieving mastery: My History Lab assignments for the week

This week I am making changes to the way I deliver instruction.  Normally I guide the students as they move from Activity #1 to Activity #2, etc.  Students are responsible for completing each activity, and then handing it to me once completed (or once time runs out) for a grade.  Embedded into that order are assessments, both formative and summative.

This week, though, I am delivering instruction by pointing the students to the learning they need to master by the end of the week.  I wanted to refocus the instruction on the expectation that students are responsible for mastering learning objectives, and not simply completing in-class activities that I created for them.  I call this week's assignments History Lab.
Here's how I set this up.  First, I created a Google Site with an overview of the week's learning objectives.  (You can try this link to access my Google Site but it resides on my district's non-public Google Apps for Education server.)

This YouTube video (6:29) shows you how to create a Google Site.
Second, on my page I explain to my students the week's expectations.
This week's work is largely self-paced and self-directed.  Your focus should be on demonstrating mastery on a series of assessments that I will give you at the end of this week.  Class work time will be for you to prepare.  Home study time will be for you to reinforce what you learned in class during the day.
The lesson this week combines two topics of the Gilded Era: Presidential politics, and developments in the Trans-Mississippi West, America's last front frontier.

To master these topics, there are different types of learning expectations.  For example, for the presidential politics expectations, students make an annotated timeline of the era.  For the Trans-Mississippi West, I gave the students a vocabulary list of important vocabulary.  To assess mastery, I will give the students short, online quizzes as to both topics at the end of this week.

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