3 Ways to Transform Your Room & Instruction into a Student Centered HotSpot!

3 Ways to Transform Your Room & Instruction into a Student Centered HotSpot!
By Rae Hughart

The school year begins with a whirlwind of “To Do’s.” As teachers prepare positive classroom cultures, copy essential resources, and participate in back to school professional development opportunities, it is common for teachers to lose focus on what is most important – student learning!

Don’t allow yourself to put off preparing for student learning until the copies are made! Consider adopting one (or all) of the tips below, to transform your room and instruction into a student centered hotspot!

# 1 Feedback Focused on Understanding

Do your grading scores communicate effectively to your students? Students often receive arbitrary numerical scores following a graded task. On occasion, a teacher may also provide a comment for the student using a colorful marker or stamp. This may read “Great Work” or “Try Again.” However, is this meeting the needs of our students?

Numbers Scale + Impactful Vocabulary : Consider connecting your numerical grading scale to vocabulary describing a student’s level of understanding on a specific topic, standard, or idea! This is a teacher friendly way to provide students with targeted feedback while respecting your time and energy. Utilizing this philosophy, students easily identify successes and areas requiring further growth.

Colors + Direction :Utilizing stoplight colors for students to easily identify their readiness to move forward toward more challenging content.

  • Red can show a student they need to “Stop & Take a Breather.” For your classroom, this may be a sign that a student would benefit from one-on-one instruction and the opportunity to try again after reteaching!
  • Yellow will show students they should “Slow down & Watch Your Speed ”. The student is obviously learning, but is lacking a few key pieces of the puzzle. Before speeding up, this student may benefit from reviewing important information and retrying the task again to find stronger success!
  • Green shows students they are “Good To Go!” The student is ready to take on new challenges and keep their learning moving forward!
  • While you will not find blue on a stoplight, I often utilize blue to celebrate students applying their learning above and beyond the expectation set by the lesson. These students are “Soaring & Ready for New Heights!”

The Why: Targeting student feedback for each student’s level of understanding is essential to supporting student development.

#2 Student Driven Learning Focused on Mastery

Get out of the way! Let students do the thinking! Challenge yourself this school year to utilize Mastery Learning by requiring students to develop a full understanding of a topic or standard before moving forward. This idea, adopted by Benjamin S. Bloom, continues to transform the typical education system to catch students who would typically slip through the cracks.

Main Focus : Allow students to fully understand content before moving forward to eliminate gaps in knowledge – building a strong base for challenging content to come.

How : Give them the keys to success! Allowing each student to move at their own pace throughout their learning process provides students the flexibility to learn content to its fullest potential. This allows students to focus on some road blocks longer than others, while accomplishing mastery throughout each turn along the way.

What if : What if students do not find success on the first attempt? That’s ok! Fail is a First Attempt In Learning toward finding the right path. Make sure students understand how to improve before moving onto the next attempt. Experiencing failure to find success is an essential part of building life long learners.

The Why : Every learner can learn if given the time and the right learning environment.

#3 Learning through Community & Career Connections

We must provide purposeful learning experiences for students in our classrooms. Each content standard has a connection to the world outside of the classroom, so let’s take our students there!

Utilizing mock internships for students to experience learning, we can bridge the gap between the real world and educational standards – expanding stakeholders in our students success from teachers and parents to community members in the surrounding area.

Content : When beginning your lesson planning , identify standards, targets, or ideas you intend to meet. Then, design a standard focused summative assessment. Consider what your students need to do to prove their mastery level of understanding.

Creativity : Consider possible career uses and how the information can be essential to solving a challenge in the outside world. When will these concepts be used? What is the student’s purpose in learning this idea?

Connections : Connect students learning to a career found within your community. Don’t be shy! Reach out to a local business or community member and involve them in your students’ learning process. Allow students to understand the purpose behind the content and buy in to the time it takes to master the ideas, while providing students hands-on learning opportunities to test their skills within their internship experience.

How do you wrap up an engaging internship experience? Provide students the opportunity to share their learning with the community by completing a community outreach challenge. This is a quick and easy way to provide students the opportunity to spread their knowledge and teach others, while also highlighting your students’ success to better your community and make connections with other stakeholders.

The Why : Well-Rounded Education occurs beyond the walls of a School Building

Final Thought :Don’t allow the whirlwind of “To Do’s” get you down! Your students are eager to meet you, prove their skills, and master challenges out of this world! Consider adapting your grading to correspond with positive language and utilize colors to provide direction, encourage students to master skills, and connect with your community to enhance your learning – taking it one step further! Transform your room and instruction into a student centered hotspot!

Rae Hughart Bio :

Rae Hughart is a Middle Level Educator in Illinois and the Director of Training and Development for Progressive Mastery Learning, LLC.

Over the past few years, Rae has used the 3C’s of the TeachFurther Unit Design – Curriculum, Creativity, and Connections – to transform classrooms across the Midwest. Through the development of rigorous content, career themed units, and building strong community support, Rae works with teachers to lead an out of the box classroom utilizing the mock internship design!

In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame. You can follow Rae Hughart’s classroom and receive updates on speaking engagements through Twitter, Instagram, or on her website.