Reviewing Reviews (or how I learned to stop procrastinating and start my blog already)

My cohort experience started with a great face to face a few weeks ago. It was a good way to get out of the day-to-day doldrums that can sometimes come with any day job, and really get inspired to enhance and improve your teaching methods.

Then I got back to school…and fell right back into the grind.

Between moderating clubs, tutorials, preparing for a week long retreat, attending said week long retreat and teaching, it was far too easy to let cohort fall down the priority list in my mind. This isn’t to say that I’m overworked or over-committed or anything, just that it’s too simple to slip back into routine. Also, I am definitely not a writer. The idea of writing blogs strikes fear into my heart. However, I have found that often the best way to get into something is by jumping in with both feet…so here I am…..the night before this is “‘due”….procrastinating as always.

I’m not sure what life this blog is going to take on this year, but for my first one, I’d like to detail both my school’s PD focus to get some input and ideas on where we/I can take it, as well as talk about some urgent needs in my classroom.

As a school, we’ve decided to focus on improving skills that our students seem to be lacking over the past few years. We’re trying to reflect on what we’re doing in the classroom to help students better develop these skills, and become better learners. Our four broad categories are:

a) Note Taking
b) Research Skills
c) Study Skills
d) Resiliency, Inquiry, and Problem Solving

I’ve taken a particular interest in improving study skills, and one small aspect that I’ve decided to take a look at is test reviews. I teach senior math courses for the most part, and I can often fall into the trap of handing out a review that mimics the test. I’d like to somehow alter this to enhance their learning process, instead of just checking out for the unit, and cramming on a review.

As for an urgent need, I’ve chatted with some students about the concept of being “complete learners”. What I mean by this is that most of my students can do at least one part of the learning process very well. They are good test takers, or good note takers, or have a great attention span, or complete all of their homework. However, many of them struggle when they need to put everything together. After receiving a poor test grade, I’ll get students make comments such as:

“I don’t know how this happened, I studied for 6 hours before the test”

Or:

“But I’m always listening in class”

They seem to lack the ability to put all of these parts together and, more importantly in my eyes, see the connections and correlations between each of them. A few of them have mentioned that they’ve never really been led through this process, which made me realize that I probably was never led through this process and I’m either lucky to have figured it out on my own….or I’m not a complete learner either! I’d love to come up with a plan to help these students (and me!) through this.

One thought on “Reviewing Reviews (or how I learned to stop procrastinating and start my blog already)

  1. Andrew,

    So much of this resonates with me and what I am working on in my own domain at my school. I oversee our robust student leadership program, and part of this is building the skills of leadership and the self, and the leadership of others. Every month we have a new “Leadership Skill Builder”. Happy to share each of these. But what is relevant to this blog post is that most students are organized, but they don’t know HOW they are organized. Most of the prepare well for tests and do well on their assessments, but spend very little time (through no fault of their own) reflecting on the connection between the prep and the result.

    Thanks for framing this discussion in your blog. I’d love to hear more from your students and your faculty on how to bridge these gaps. Also, the upcoming CIS Ontario Connects Unconference has a whole stream dedicated to this discussion – consider sending a team along with you!

    Thanks,
    Garth.

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