Reinforcing Effort and Homework and Practice
This week’s learning resources focused a great deal on reinforcing positive behaviors. This has proven to be very helpful in my classroom. Although I already felt positive reinforcement greatly impacted my class in a positive way, the chapter “Reinforcing Effort” reaffirmed my beliefs. I have started using a test website called the Georgia Online Assessment System to assess student learning and gauge my instruction. The chapter on reinforcement said that “technology makes it easier for students and teachers to track the effects of effort and facilitates more immediate feedback” (Pitler, p.156). This makes me feel great about my recent efforts to utilize technology in my assessments when possible. I have thoroughly enjoyed using this form of assessment because the website automatically grades the tests and tells my students how many questions were answered correctly. They can look at the questions to review what they may have done incorrectly and what specific standards they may not have mastered. Often, I will pull up a copy of the test that the students took on my projector and we will go through the questions together. This not only allows them to see what they did wrong, but also gives me the opportunity to constantly remind students of good test taking strategies in preparation for our state high stakes test. This database allows me to pull reports to see what each student scored on the assessment, and also specifically identifies what standards were areas of concern. I love this feature because it allows me to reflect on my instruction and see if there are any standards that I need to go back and review with my entire class and then also if there are any students that I need to re-teach certain material to either individually or in a small group.
We also read “Homework and Practice” this week. I do not give a lot of required homework assignments because our school population is not a group of students that typically complete homework. My principal feels very strongly that students cannot be punished for not completing homework; therefore, this is something that I have a hard time justifying giving in large quantities. One thing suggested this week was that practice is most effective when presented in an engaging way such as games. This is something that I sometimes question, because I know a lot of parents want to see some type of pencil and paper practice for their children if they feel the children are struggling with a specific skill. In my classroom I have tried to introduce learning resources that include a combination of tests and interactive activities that keep students from getting bored. Our school utilizes Compass learning as a tool to assist in the practice aspect of learning. I often assign my students assessments in this online program. When students take this test they know that the website will assign a learning path based on their performance. When students did not do well with a specific standard on the assessment the website assigns them practice games to complete. They must score a mastery score set by the teacher before they can move on. This has worked really well especially with my lower achieving students because they try their hardest to be successful on the first assessment so that they have less on their learning path to complete. Students see right away how they did on the assessments based on how many standards are shown as needing assistance. This goes hand in hand with Pitter’s belief that online games provide immediate feedback that can be used not only by the teacher but also by the students to monitor progress.