A little while ago, I blogged about some Independent Learning I did with my A2 students. To read what it's all about, see here:
Part 1 - What I Did
Part 2 - What I Found
At end of each unit, students complete a progress tracking sheet. They reflect upon their grades for their home and timed essays, their progress and set two targets. While completing this, I asked them to turn over and answer the following too:
- How did you feel about this topic? (More confident/less confident/same)
- Did you feel you had sufficient resources?
- Did you have enough time?
- Do you feel you have sufficient notes in your folder for revision?
- Did you enjoy working in this way?
- Would you be happy to do it again?
- How did you feel about your timed essay grade for this topic?
- Any other comments?
The feedback varied but a few headlines from the answers they provided:
- 4 felt less confident, 5 felt the same, 3 felt more confident and one said "less confident until we started sharing when I realised I knew it all!" - of the students who said less confident, three were students who struggle with confidence in the subject on many occasions.
- They all felt they had enough resources - these were a mixture of printed material, documents uploaded to Edmodo and student-created resources from the previous Y13 students (the last of which some noted they were sceptical about!)
- They all felt they had more than enough time. One student pointed out it was hard working on an essay together over the summer... the deadline was the end of term!
- All bar two students said they had sufficient notes for revision. Both of these two students said they would have preferred more teacher notes.
- 5 students didn't like it at all - they stated that they much prefer it when teachers give them the information (4 of these were the students mentioned in headline 1). 5 students enjoyed it, even if at first one of them was a little daunted. 2 didn't know! One of the most able students said, "I enjoyed having the responsibility of controlling my learning and time.", another said, "I enjoyed working independently as it really motivates me."
- 4 said they would be happy to do it again, 3 said they wouldn't choose to do it, but would, 5 said 'no' to doing it again.
- Only one student said they were more satisfied that usual! 2 said the same, and the rest said less happy. This was their first A2 essay so a step up, but as seen in my previous blog post, their results were approximately in keeping with their usual grades. This is an interesting perception on their part.
- There were few other comments aside from "I enjoyed spreading the workload."
What do I take from this?
Firstly, my consolidation in September including activities such as Speed Dating and Silent Debating were really important to most of the students; both the more and less confident students said this was vital to their understanding. They needed activities, in the classroom, with their peers to ensure that they were secure in their knowledge.
Secondly it was really clear there is still work to be done regarding teacher dependency. Too many of the girls stated that they wanted to essentially sit there and be 'spoon fed' the exact content. The trouble is, there is no 'exact content' in philosophy...
Student satisfaction was really interesting; why were they so unsatisfied with their result when generally speaking it was in keeping? Perhaps this is a good thing? Perhaps as because they had taken ownership over it and not done as well, it was more disappointing than if I lead them and they did not achieve?
I am likely to be able to do this again in the summer of 2014. I will do something very similar, but perhaps share some of this information with the students. I want them to believe from the start that they will be able to get the same grades (if not better!) than if I teach them.
I will also look at some further independent tasks for this class. Particularly for the more able students, it is a good way to stretch them towards the A*. I am trying to source articles that they can work on and incorporate into their essays. I think I now realise, I can give more ownership of the Implications unit to the students later in the year. Last year when I was teaching it, I was afraid to 'let go'.
Finally, it really highlights the work we as a school need to do lower down on raising the independence of our students. Their over reliance on their teachers was clearly evident, however the majority, when thrown in at the deep end, coped!