Grammar instruction isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. In fact, people might argue that students don’t really need to be able to identify subjects, verbs, and all other parts of the sentence. I do believe that being able to think metacognitively about language is a skill that students should be exposed to.
One of the 8th grade CCSS language standards deals with identifying the functions of verbals and their functions in a sentence. In order to be able to do that successfully, you need to understand the possible functions (ie- the parts of a sentence).
To liven up this material and to try to make it more accessible to students, I decided to use it for a technology integration unit for a graduate class I am taking. I allowed students to bring their own devices, and I had a few (old, slow, temperamental) school laptops for students without a personal device. I used EDpuzzle
for video lectures, Kahoot
! for in-class practice and Socrative
for formative assessments.
To make a long story short, I am still shocked at just how well the technology worked. The students were engaged and, most importantly, they learned the material!
The various lessons in the unit followed this timeline
1. At home video lecture
2. In class practice of material playing a Kahoot!
3. Targeted small group and whole group instruction
4. In class practice of material using a written worksheet
5. Targeted small group and whole group instruction
6. Formative assessment using Socrative
At the end of the unit there was a study guide that was identical in format to the summative assessment. It did utilize different practice sentences. This was followed up by targeted small group instruction and differenentated practice prior to the summative assessment.
Overall, I feel that the results of the summative assessment are some of the best I’ve gotten on similar assessments. I don’t have the data from past years, so this is anecdotal.
Below are the results of the survey I gave students at the end of the unit. They new we were trying this as an experiment for my class, and I told them I wanted their honest feedback for future planning.
Question: How helpful did you find the at home video assignments?
For me, the responses to this question were the biggest shock. Students had a lot of problems accessing the videos, and I did not think they enjoyed them at all. Based only on their reactions in class, I never would have guessed this would be the results to the question. When I drilled down on the data, the only students who rated the videos as “not helpful” or “worthless” were those who had not actually watched both of the video assignments.
Question: What do you prefer for the practice and review of concepts?
Questions: How helpful were the in-class review technologies for this unit?
Question: Which do you prefer?
Question: How effective were the technologies in this unit?
For me, the following feedback was the part of the survey with with most impact. I was quite impressed with how thoughtful their comments were. This level of reflection is sometimes difficult for 8th-grade students. This is a snapshot of some of the most detailed reflection statements.
Overall, I would recommend trying these specific technologies to any educator looking to engage middle school students. They loved taking part in this experiment with me, and we all learned so much together.
The big lesson here – take a chance and try something new!
How as technology integration impacted your students’ learning experiences?