In the early winter, my colleague, Irene Witt, and I designed a survey for our students, delivered via Google Forms. Our questions ran the gamut from “choose all that apply” for “what resources do you use regularly for homework” to the open-ended prompt “for math class, it would be cool if….”
The data was awesome.
I think it’s important to note that we required names. It has been my experience that anonymous surveys lead to viciousness, not dialogue. How can I ask follow-up questions if I don’t know who I’m “speaking” to? How can I take suggestions seriously if I don’t know where the person is coming from?
With this survey, as I read through the feedback, I realized there were two categories of the responses–ones that led to change in teacher practice and ones that led to conversations with students about practices they could adopt that were already available to them.
Changes to teacher practice:
The following changes in teacher practice came about as a response to feedback from the students:
- At teacher discretion, students can request to listen to music during work time.
- Teachers will try to show work on answer keys as much as possible. (We often do this, but the student was requesting that it happen more often, especially with any algebra work.)
- Teachers will look for opportunities for students to do more projects.
We also asked for specific feedback about Math Blasters, a weekly review assignment designed to be done on students’ time at home or during a flexible work time in school during the week. The feedback was pretty consistent and has led to two major changes in our approach to Math Blasters:
- Students now have some dedicated time in class to work in small groups and/or with the teacher on the Math Blasters in preparation for the weekly assessment.
- Teachers now make some practice available on paper (for use in the practice sessions or later for students to use at home).
This set of feedback was especially useful in that it led to a more effective approach to the review work in Math Blasters.
Some of the things that students asked for turned out to be things that we were already doing. I followed up with individual students to either remind them about options already available for them or to help them figure out how to access an option. Here are some examples:
- Students asked for video options for Math Blasters. With these students, I showed them the links in the Math Blasters document in posted in Google Classroom.
- Students asked for an answer key for Math Blasters, so I showed them where that was on the paper and electronic versions.
- I confirmed with one student that the content of the Math Blasters homework was EXACTLY the same as the content on the Math Blasters assessment, which he had asked us to do.
- I showed some students how to access more questions when Khan decides they are “done” and they needed more practice.
This set of feedback led to more productive and effective student work.
My favorite recommendation? The student who wrote, in response to the prompt “it would be cool if….,” “there could be a mini penguin that sits on the teachers desk and stares into the souls of the students that disobey her unfaltering wisdom.”
Need I say more?!?!