Imagine. Students in your class are working on different parts of the same unit, different units completely, testing, or working with you on a content skill. For some this may seem overwhelming and insane, and it can be but if you have system of tracking and seating in your room this system can be manageable.
In a self-paced system, it is possible for students to be in completely different parts of your curriculum. That means it requires the teacher to be more flexible and organized in their day-to-day classroom. It really is organized chaos.
How to manage the chaos
Tracking System - This goes back to our previous self-paced post. Having a clear and organized system for tracking student progress on your end will make your life so much easier. The goal is to have system that allows you to easily pinpoint where students are at in your curriculum easily while you are up and working on all of the different pieces and have the students understand where they are at as well.
Seating Plan - This doesn’t mean having a set in stone seating plan. What this means is having a room organized to allow you and the students be working on different pieces of content in the same room. This can definitely be difficult considering all of the limitations we tend to have. Like we discussed before in our seating arrangement post, we recommend having different zones for different types of activities that come up in your curriculum like a testing area, group work area, partner section, etc. Flexible seating is also something to consider as well, since self-paced naturally lends itself to individual work and flexibility.
Concrete, Clear Procedures and Content - This is by far the #1 piece to making self-paced or anything really work in any classroom. When it comes to the self-paced classroom, the teacher needs to spend quite a bit of time teaching the students the procedures for working in the classroom. This is typical for any teacher, but in this scenario you will more than likely need to spend a little more time since this system will be pretty different from what students are used to. Major things that would need to be covered beyond the usual:
What our day-to-day is like
My classes usually start with me moving students to different work zones depending on their progress if they forget. Then I do a round of check-ins. I go to each zone and check in with students to see if they need me to sign off on work that they have completed, check what their goals are for class that day, and work on relationships. I then start on any administrative stuff I have to do like attendance or whatever. After that what usually happens is one of the following:
My system is definitely not refined yet. I am still working out some things that I want to change and improve on for next year. I have to say though that I really am loving the chaos of seeing students make connections with the content and learn how to recognize their learning process and self-regulate their learning. Even though it is chaos, I have found that I do not have as many classroom management issues with my tough classes like I did before switching to this system. That does not mean that there still isn’t classroom management issues, but I feel like they are smaller and easier to deal with on an individual basis as opposed to having the whole class issues that can pop up in a more traditional system.
If you are looking for a way to incorporate current events into your class or just share resources with students or faculty, scoop.it is a great tool to use! Scoop.it is somewhat like a professional Pinterest page.
With scoop.it, you create a profile with topics. In each topic, you collect articles or videos that relate to the topic and you can curate them by adding your own thoughts about the content. Then you publish to your page/topic. Your account is usually connected to a social media account which will post your material as well, but there is an option to create an account not connected to social media.
The website is geared towards businesses with a marketing angle, but if you search users you will find a lot of college professors and teachers that are using the website to collect resources for their classes.
There is a free account option which is great but the downside is you are only allowed to curate one topic on that account and you don’t really have any personalization options. There is also a pro account and a business account. That give you more topics and personalization options.
Once you are signed up, you can set up your topic and begin curating content (basically publishing articles and videos to your topic). It also allows you to add a bookmarklet so when you are browsing the Internet and you find an article or video you want, you can click on the bookmarklet to “scoop it” and curate content on the spot (just like Pinterest). Your topic can be embedded in a website and/or LMS and can be shared as a link.
Uses in the Classroom/School as an Educator:
Uses in the Classroom as a Student:
I have to admit that this has been the most difficult part of the process for me. I have been trying to find the best ways to keep track of student progress, communicate student progress, and promote self-regulated learning.
Here is my current system of tracking:
This is a pretty simple method for me to keep track of student progress. I print roster sheets with checkboxes for each of the required tasks. Every day I travel around the room working and talking with the students and as they finish one of the tasks I check it off the list. I try to color code it so I have an idea of when it happens, but I feel like it is something I need to add so that I can keep track of time progress through the material.
This is what I give the students. I really like how it is a way for the students to see exactly what is expected of them in a particular unit. The front page always has the learning goals and success criteria on it. When a student begins a new unit we review the expectations and go through the checklist. The next section of the checklist is the list of tasks. It is basically a table with the list of tasks and where they can find the materials. There is also a column for me to sign off on when they have completed the task and I have checked it. What I am not happy with right now, is that I don’t really have a way to connect learning with progression. I feel like students are getting that, but I would like to be able to show it.
Self-Regulated Learning Rubric
This I just recently created because I felt like something was missing. I wanted to have a way for students to receive feedback on well they were moving through material and how well they were using class time. I was thinking about what I wanted to achieve from this teaching method and one of the big things I want is for students to become better self-regulated learners. I gave each student a copy of the rubric and I use the score to determine what I call the class work grade. It a grade based on how well students work during class time. My rubric includes 4 sections on a scale of 0-3. Self-Start, Self-Monitor, Goal-Setting, and Self-Assess. Basically can they get themselves started, keep themselves focused, set work goals and stick to them, and recognize when they need help and ask for it.
My goals for next year:
Look for more details on our tracking system on our teachers pay teachers page. Look for “Setting up Your Self-Paced Classroom” this June!
What did they do wrong? Most problem sets in a math textbook have at least one problem where they look at a student’s work and they have to figure out what the student did wrong and how to fix it so that the problem is solved correctly.
I love problems like this because it really challenges the students to look for mistakes, a great practice to learn for checking answers! Considering how great these types of questions are, we don’t ask them enough.
Training our students to evaluate work and find mistakes can be one of the most useful things we teach them in math (and other subjects!). This is why when I noticed my co-taught Algebra students making common mistakes consistently while learning to solve one step equations, I wanted to give them some training on catching their own mistakes without simply telling them to check their work. The best way to do that, I’ve found, is by turning it into a game! Here's how to do it:
Find the mistake:
I love playing this game and hearing the students explain their answers as well as “someone else’s” mistake out loud. It is great to see those a-ha moments and class just flies by!
Try it out and let me know how it works in your class!