Teacher Success Stories
I was a classroom computer holdout.
I used to think that nothing could replace a good teacher. But think about it. How are students actually learning outside of our classrooms? They’re watching YouTube how-to videos, getting driving directions with Google Maps, and checking coupons on their cell phones before they buy. Even my students who are not computer literate can use cell phones better than me.
It took me a while, but once I shifted my view of how my students are actually learning these days, I realized I needed to get up to speed with using technology in my classroom. But who has the extra time to keep up with the digital revolution? I really struggle with finding the sources for how to integrate technology with my teaching in an effective way. The last thing I need is more on my plate.
GED® Academy’s smart software has really stepped up to the challenge. Not only does it create an individualized learning experience for each of my students, but it gives me all the web tools I need in a single package and a single price. I even get the training I need when I need it. Thanks, GED Academy. You made me a believer.
How I use blended learning lesson plans in my
I start with a single premise…the better I understand what each student needs to learn, the better I can teach. Placement exams give me a general direction, but they don’t create customized learning plans for each student. So, this has been my primary goal in adopting smart software programs and other types of technology in my classroom.
I use my computer-based learning software as the core learning path for my students. I have to admit I was reluctant to give up my role as the “sage on the stage.” I’ve always defined myself as a teacher by being the one in front of the class directing the learning traffic.
I’ll tell you what changed my mind, though: dropouts. Even with our staff of highly qualified and motivated teachers, we see a huge percentage of our students leaving before they obtain their GED® or HSD. I kept asking myself, why don’t they stay and complete our program? So, I asked my students.
What I found didn’t really surprise me. The consensus was that it “took too long.” The bulk of our students come to us at well below high school level, and they’re looking at years of study before they can get their GED. The solution was obvious, but seemed impossible. How can we accelerate the learning of our adult students?
Here’s what I found works for me. There are three basic learning modalities I use now: assessment and instruction, web 2.0 communication between students, and class discussions. First, I use a smart software program called the GED Academy practice test module to assess and create individualized learning plans for each of my students. I review these learning plans and make adjustments where I think appropriate.
I use the GED Academy accelerated learning program as the core of my instruction. It’s designed to be a standalone learning program and does a good job at covering basic instruction from Low Intermediate to High Adult Secondary. My students spend the bulk of their time with this program both in class and at home, if they have access to a computer there.
I use the class time to do small group teaching sessions with students who need it. The learning management system in the software tells me what my students struggle most with, and then I bring small groups together to do special instruction. Usually the groups are just three or four students at a time, so I can really get involved in their learning. In an hour class session I do two or three of these small group sessions.
So that covers the basic instruction. What I wanted next was a way to increase the communication that was happening between me and the students. They all have cell phones and email accounts and can message me whenever they want. I encourage them to do this. Yes, it does take up part of my day to respond to the messages, but I find it’s well worth the time in terms of getting to know my students and getting them to be better communicators.
But I don’t stop with just emails and text messages. I use this easy communication system as the means to get discussions and ideas out there to my students. Sure, many of them are just socializing, but they are often thinking and responding to my prompts about big ideas and issues we are learning about in class.
The third thing I do is use discussion tools to get all the students involved in writing and thinking about important concepts and issues. Students who would be reluctant to speak up in a classroom environment feel more at ease writing their comments and ideas on our online discussion board. I make it a mandatory activity that everyone needs to weigh in with at least one comment on the week’s discussion.
The last thing I do is use my students to do peer reviews of each other’s work. The GED Academy software has a feature that lets each student post their writing on a notebook that they can make public to the class. Students are encouraged to rate each other’s work and give comments on what they like and what they think could make it more effective. Not only does this save me lots of time in grading papers, but students are learning to self-evaluate their own writing.
Blending technology and face-to-face instruction has had dramatic effects on the learning in my classroom. Smart software educational systems like the GED Academy have allowed me to move quickly and somewhat painlessly into a blended learning environment.
I would rather use my time to teach students critical
thinking and high-level thinking skills.
I let the computers take the load of the rote learning material. My face-to-face time is the most valuable thing I have to offer. Why waste it with teaching that requires rote learning and practice? Let the machines do that.
I would rather spend my time with socratic dialogues that engage the students on multiple levels. They get more out of it, and I have more fun doing it.
My best success comes when I can create strong mentoring relationships with my students. I simply can’t do this when most of my time is spent in front of the whole group. With smart software programs like the GED Academy, I can let the computer do the easy teaching while I do the higher level stuff.
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