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Friday, June 5, 2009

History

I am always tweeking the way I teach my classes. Almost every year I have either changes some little thing or have done a major overhall of my teaching methods.

For a few years I had students working at their own pace on a workbook I put together (it was over 100 pages long and took forever to print the way I wanted it to). I quickly found out that this was not helping my students to learn the material in order to pass the IC3 exams. I wasn't having any studets pass the practice tests with a good enough score to actually pass the real exams.

Then one day something happened to our network and the test I was going to have my students take on the network wasn't available. So as usual I had to punt and work something else out. The CTE department for our district had purhased a set of "clickers" for each school. At first I thought they were a waste of money. However, since I didn't have my network to work with I decided to try and use these clickers to have my students take the test.

They didn't do so well on the test, however I found that using the clickers helped me to see where they were at immediately. I didn't have to wait until the end of the test to know that they hadn't learned anything from my workbook. I was intrigued. However, it would take another year or two for me to figure out a way that would help my students to learn the material enough to be able to take and pass the real IC3 exams.

My department had purchased the old IC3 practice tests. These were really great because the tests looks and feels like the real test environment. I had used these as a final exam before, but a I mentioned before, it really wasn't working too well. So I decided to show the practice test to my students on my LCD projector. I could show them how to complete the tasks they were being asked to do so they would know how to do them when they took the tests. The biggest problem was that every time you start the practice test it was a different test. You might have the same questions here and there, but hardly ever in the same order. Now as a test, thisbis really great, but to use it as a teaching tool seemed like a major problem. Also, I found that after awhile the students seemed to get bored. This is where I started mixing some ideas.

Some of the questions on the practice tests are knowledge questions (i.e. multiple choice, etc.). I brought out my clickers for these questions and the students were really engaged in the learning proces.

I quickly found that I could teach using the clickers and the practice tests. On the performance questions I could randomly pick a student to come to my computer and try to accomplish the task. I put my students into "teams" and if the student that was picked can do the task, then the team gets to click in die extra points. If the student cannot complete the task, then another student us randomly picked.

This has proven to work REALLY well. I have students who are more engaged in their learning. I even am having more and more students being prepared enough to actually take the IC3 exams and pass them!

In my next couple of entries I will write about the software and hardware that I use. I will also write about my current project of making my own practices for the performance questions.

Sent from my iPod

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