Featured Insights Oct 10

5 ways to use Along in your academic classroom

Getting to know your students as individuals helps to build trust in the classroom. When students and teachers connect over fun conversation starters, like “If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you want to be?” the classroom becomes a place where students are more engaged and open to learning. 

But… how do you make enthusiastic connections over the academic material that you’re teaching? Students are coming into your math, science, or English class with a set of previous experiences—positive and negative—about particular academic subjects. Understanding where students are coming from, and how specific lessons are resonating, can provide valuable insights that support your teaching practices. And, as the first semester continues and we approach mid-point progress reports, checking in with your students about their academic success is critical. The lessons they are learning now will continue to be built upon as the year continues

With Along, educators can access free, research-informed open response and multiple-choice questions to help inform classroom instruction and connect over academic material in more impactful ways. 

Check out these 5 ways to use Along in your academic classroom:

  1. Understand what works well for your students. Does your class respond better to hands-on projects rather than lectures?  You can find out simply by asking your students. Within Along, visit the Connect to prior learning collection, and ask a question to learn about your students’ previous experience with the academic subject.  For example, asking “What is one thing you enjoyed about math class last year, or in a previous year?,” you can quickly find out which specific topics, assignments, or types of lessons resonated with your students.

  2. Build community around student affirmation. Making students feel included and welcomed is important as educators dive into academic material and as they build on previous lessons. Acknowledging that your students are making strides in learning helps to keep the engagement going. However, not all students like public accolades. Why not delve into the Invite input: what builds community collection, and ask, “What’s one way you like to be recognized when you’ve worked hard?” The answers can help you celebrate students in ways that are meaningful to them – maybe it’s a note that they can look at later, a shout-out in class, or a prize.
  3. Pulse check about lessons in real time. Want to know how your students are comprehending a specific lesson? Why not use a quick multiple choice or short response question during a lesson to get input? You can look in the Invite input: what drives learning collection and consider asking your students questions such as, “What’s one choice you’d like to have in class to better support your learning? Why?” The answers can help you assess what is and isn’t working in class.
  4. Check in at the beginning, middle, and end of units. To know whether your lessons are resonating, don’t wait until it’s too late. Questions such as, “Lately have assignments in class (like projects or tests) worked well for you? Why or why not?” or “Lately is there anything in our class that you’re struggling with? What is it?,” can provide valuable insights and allow you to make adjustments based on student responses. You can find other ideas in the Review progress: student agency collection.
  5. Promote student agency in your class. When you ask your students to provide their inputs about classroom material, make sure to respond back. This might mean communicating directly to a specific student within the Along platform, or sharing some general thoughts live in class that address many of your students’ responses. Opening the door to student voices promotes agency in your class—but only if you acknowledge adjustments that you are making to address their concerns. You can also consider doing a classroom activity that promotes students’ inputs in making classroom decisions. One option provided within Along is the Empower Students in the Classroom activity, a 15-minute lesson that can have long-term benefits.

At this point in the semester, it’s important to understand if there are any missing pieces in your students’ academic comprehension and to address any challenges they may be having. With Along’s updated teacher-student connection builder, there are so many ways you can use student insights to help!

What other ways are you using Along in an academic setting? We want to hear your stories! Reach out today at media@gradientlearning.org, and we may feature you in an upcoming blog.

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