Featured Insights Dec 12

5 ideas for how and when to use Along in your classroom

Teacher Roselyn Denham shares how she uses Along for virtual journaling.

When you ask educators around the country, How and when do you use Along in your classroom?, the answers reveal the creativity of our community. 

Along was built to help educators learn about their students as individuals and create connections at school and in the classroom community. These connections can also serve as jumping off points into deeper learning and engagement in the classroom.

Check out these 5 ideas for how and when to use Along in your classroom:

  • Morning Bell Ringer. Post an Along question for your students to answer as a “Do Now” activity first thing when they enter your classroom. Take a look at the answers as they come in and get a sense of students’ thoughts going into the day. You’re setting the tone of your classroom by giving a moment for reflection. And, you can respond to students live as responses come in.
  • Virtual journaling to replace composition books. Many language arts and advisory teachers in particular have shared that Along helps their students engage in writing, while also helping them eliminate the need for physical composition books. “Along has been a great way for me to respond that is quicker than a notebook,” shared Roselyn Denham, who teaches at Bondy Intermediate School in Pasadena, Texas. “I can do it from anywhere, from home, during my conference, at my lunch, instead of having to dig up a notebook and flip pages.” 
  • Tie to an academic activity. In your academic classroom, there are endless possibilities for how you can use Along to prompt thinking around a lesson.
    For example, if you’re a science teacher, try asking a question in Along about a recent lab experiment and why students think they got the result obtained. Are you an art teacher? Students can answer a question such as, “If you could choose a word about yourselves, what would it be and why?” And then, that day’s lesson is to do a watercolor about their word. If you are an English teacher, think about a theme in the book your class is reading, and pose a question in Along about how that theme relates to your students. The possibilities are endless!
  • Gain insights during and after a unit or test. Learn how your instruction resonates with your students by asking for their direct feedback. In the middle of a unit, consider asking this Along question: “Lately, is there anything in our class that you’re struggling with? What is it?” Based on the answers, adjust instruction to fit the class needs. And later, when the unit is over, try using this Along question: “Lately, have assignments in class let you really show what you know? Why or why not?” Use the feedback to consider changes to upcoming units and apply the insights the next time you do the same unit. 
  • Springboard into a full-class discussion. Whether you’re asking a question that’s fun or light or you’re prompting students to answer a question related to academics, Along can be a starting point that leads to opportunities to engage with your full class. For example, Sophia Yargo, an English teacher at Struthers High School in Ohio, shares a question with her students weekly on Along. And sometimes, the answers she receives from students or that she shares herself lend themselves to interesting discussions live with everyone in class. After a class unit around the film “Dead Poets Society,” she asked the following question on Along: “If you could be any age right now, what age would you be?” Yargo chose the question because it “related to the struggles some of the characters were going through. A lot of them surprised me with how nostalgic they were about things they wish they could return to. That helped me see them in a different way, because I see them as still being so young. It opened up opportunities for a longer discussion than what I had initially anticipated.”

These are just a few of the ways you can use Along. Consider how you could potentially use a combination of these suggestions in your classroom!

If you have other ideas to share with fellow educators, we want to highlight them here! Reach out to media@gradientlearning.org.

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