Over the course of 2017, I used tracking sheets to track where students were at with their work. This was initially particularly useful for teaching content as I could see where a student was at and I mostly used this to track attendance. That way when I student turned up to class I could keep track of what they had missed.
Here is an example of a tracking sheet I used with my classes in 2017:
As noted in my earlier blog post this was a useful tool and a way to keep track of students work. I started using this also for assessments and with the students consent I would bring this up on the projector at the start of the class. Informing students where they were at in relation to deadlines, other students and marked red if they were really behind (usually lack of work or missing lessons). However, I reflected on this mid way though the year and realised this didn’t really work. It wasn’t motivating students to get work done and if students saw they were ahead this will stop them from completing tasks in a timely fashion. I realised by visually displaying the tracking sheet I was actually letting the class set their own pace which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I also got some feedback from another teacher that students felt pressured by this approach.
I started to use the tracking sheet just for myself – I would attach students work and use this as a way to ensure I was systematically checking each student and providing feedback. This way there was no surprises if a student was falling behind or hadn’t completed work. I also knew which students hadn’t started tasks at all and this way there were no surprises when they didn’t hand in anything on the due date.
In conclusion, tracking sheets provide a useful way to track students progress but rather than a viable tool this is more useful as a way for teachers to manage students work in a digital environment.
As mentioned in my previous post after reflecting on students lack of explanation in their written expression and the realisation this may be connected to low- literacy which meant that some students in the class may be struggling to understand the content I had on the level 2 geography site . The majority of this content had been adapted from Year 12 geography text books aimed at students who had reading levels that aligned with the national average- as many of our students at Tamaki College did not read at this level I really needed to adapt the way content was delivered.
We were beginning our Urban Pattern assessment based on Detroit and I decided to adapt my teaching style to suit my students. I did this in a number of ways;
- Although I still wanted to encourage students to read I decided to “chunk” this. I would get students to read sections of text from the website, followed by a class discussion. This worked well as it let students clarify their ideas and it meant students that hadn’t quite understood particular points could get this information elsewhere. Here is some notes from a student led discussion:
- I continued to discuss paragraph structure with a focus on key points to deal with issues around clarity and linking back.
- I provided audio visual alternative to text – as a class we watched a number of documentaries that focused on particular points – once again followed by class discussion
- An added benefit was that as the teacher I could check student understanding through discussion and questioning and clarify points that students didn’t get. This provided more teaching opportunities than simply getting the class to read information in their own time.
Students responded well to these strategies and keenly took part in class discussion and in fact started to ask for this more frequently. I asked the class whether the discussions were helpful and the majority of students felt this was a useful approach.
In conclusion, alternative strategies are necessary for teaching and learning. This provides multiple platforms for students to engage with content and therefore deepen understanding.