Student Learning Projects

Student Learning ProjectsLibrarians and Tech Integrators are great at collecting data: circulation checkouts, database use, Chromebooks per student, number of patrons walking into the library, etc. But how valuable is this information? This kind of data has little to do with our students learning to evaluate sources, understand content, gather evidence to support a claim, and ask good questions.

I ask you to reconsider how to collect data about your program. We all need to ask ourselves:

  • How does my work make a difference in improving teaching and learning?
  • What is my value to the learning culture?
  • How might I use evidence to improve my practice and enhance learning?

When you develop your Student Learning Project during your field experience, you will be coming up with inventive ways to measure those questions.

Start with a Lesson Plan Template Tool
There is a value in different lesson plan template tools. The one you pick will help you stay focused and on task as your plan your Student Learning Project. Try out the STEM Inquiry Lesson Template from the OER Commons.

Choose Your Standards
Focus on 3 standards. It’s overwhelming when faced with the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, C3 Social Studies Framework, ISTE Standards for Students, and National School Library Standards.

Nail Down Student Learning Objectives
What is it that you want students to know and be able to do when they complete the unit? Be specific and make sure these are measurable. Consider the diverse student populations in your classes and how you will meet their needs, too.

Develop Pre-Assessments
How will you know if your students actually learned what you are trying to teach if you don’t start off with some data? Think of creative ways to gather this data about your students. It doesn’t have to be a test or a quiz. Read this excellent blog post called 10 Creative Pre-Assessment Ideas You May Not Know by Angela Stockman. Once you have a pre-assessment, you can deliver it at any time and analyze that data. Do you notice any trends?

Prepare your actual lessons. Test your technology tools. Do you need any assistive technologies for your students? Talk to your collaborative partner about who is going to do what. I’m not recommending a rehearsal, but it’s great to know which content you were planning on delivering before you stumble over each other in front of students.

While you are teaching, ask your teaching partner to video a presentation. You can use this to submit as your video demonstration of teaching.

This is your final project for your students. They will complete their projects, create their masterpieces, or share their knowledge in an inventive way. How will you measure whether they met the goals you set for them? Did they learn what you thought they would? Gather your rubrics, review your data, and analyze. How does it compare to the pre-assessment?

“We don’t learn from experience… we learn by reflecting on experience” John Dewey. I know! Another John Dewey quote, but this is so important. Sit down and write a reflection on your student learning project. What went well? What needs improvement for next time? How can you use the data you found to improve your teaching practice? Be honest. Be thoughtful. Look at student work and think about how you could have done something differently.

Let me know if you have questions about your student learning project. The detailed description and rubric is in your Moodle. Now go forth and teach!

Creating a Rich Field Experience

Whether you are working on a teaching internship or a practicum we want your on-site experience to serve as your culminating project in your program. Either experience will help you to develop competencies in teaching, classroom management, resource assessment, budgeting, collaboration, and technology integration. Our Education Technology Integrators usually take the teaching internship, focusing their days on teaching, planning, collaborating, and integrating technology across the curriculum. Our School Library Media candidates usually take the practicum in which they observe and document what a variety of school librarians do each day. Both options have plenty of crossover and a rich field experience means doing a variety of other learning opportunities.

I have found the more well-rounded the experience, the more fulfilling the internship or practicum is for the candidate. Consider adding some of these activities to your field experience:

Professional Development at a Variety of Levels
You may want to attend a PD meeting at your elementary, middle, or high school to see the differences. Think about how grading, classroom management, and teaching varies for different ages. The next time you attend a conference or workshop check out the other grade level teachers. I know I usually stick to my high school colleagues, but there is a lot to learn across the grades (and a great way to log some hours at an alternative level).

Planning with Your Mentor
I have so many wonderful experiences working with candidates on their planning skills. For instance, when you are trying to schedule meetings with your mentor, set up a Google Calendar and a Doodle Poll to establish times. While you are at it, you may want to research several digital To-Do lists and choose one to keep track of your tasks. This may be the time to develop a mind-map of your learning process over the course of the field experience. Test some different mind-mapping tools and gain some insight into how to progress this semester and into the coming year. Be sure to log any hours spent researching, assessing, evaluating, choosing, and learning new technology tools.

Planning for Instruction
Now that you have developed an effective plan for your field experience, let’s do some instructional planning. The ETI and LMS programs have a subscription for you to learn how to use LibGuides before you consider purchasing it for your own program. If you do not already have access you can request an account from Pam Harland. Spend some time curating resources for an upcoming student project at your school. Use LibGuides or another digital curation tool to bring vetted information sources together for your students. Can you find primary sources? Open educational sources? Fiction and informational texts that pair together? Readings at a variety of levels?

Plymouth also has a subscription to a Destiny test site. If you haven’t administered a relational  database of patrons and items you may want to try it out. This is your opportunity to test self checkout modules, reports for missing items, global changes, or other seldom used tools in the database. The help tools in Destiny are incredible and walk you through many options. Be sure to log your hours watching the tutorials and testing the system.

Now is a great time to read across grade levels, content areas, and genres. Read articles, journals, novels, and picture books. Delve deep into a topic you have always wanted to learn about. Create a Review of the Literature on a topic and add it to your ePortfolio as a sample of your scholarly writing abilities. While you are at it, log all of your hours reading and writing.

Since we mentioned it, this is a great opportunity to write. Start your blog. Tweet every day. Get in the practice of reflecting on and sharing what you learn. You may think you are not experienced enough to share your thoughts, but there are thousands of people who want to hear from you. Trust me! Consider submitting a book review or a project you have developed. I would be honored if you would write for this blog. Let me know and log those hours!

Now is the time to develop your professional portfolio that you will continue to use and reflect on for years to come. Choose a tool and start adding your Mahara documents into your Google Site, VisualCV, or other free site. You will not regret that decision and you can link your updated ePortfolio to your resume as you begin applying for jobs.

We want you to have a rich and fulfilling experience during your internship or practicum so you are better prepared for your career.