The Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL) conducted a study to evaluate the relationship between student learning and effective teacher pedagogical practices in online learning. The study specifically looked at Edmentum’s online solutions in three instructional settings—pure virtual, blended, and classroom/lab—across four purposes: original credit, credit recovery, intervention, and Advanced Placement®.
Earlier this month, we took an in-depth look into how you can implement tip #1. Today, we will be looking at best practices when implementing tip #2 into your classroom or school.
Tip #2: Providing students with all materials needed to complete an assignment
Just as we discussed in Tip #1, you cannot expect students to be successful in school if they are not prepared to succeed. Your expectations and procedures have to be clear, but the materials they need to accomplish your goals should also be readily available and easy to access.
Think of it this way: you buy a kit to build a wooden picnic table in your backyard. All of the wood is pre-cut, and it even comes with the nails, bolts, and nuts that you will need. However, you don’t have a hammer and wrench and have no means to access them. You’re not going to get very far in building your picnic table.
Best methods to provide materials
There are numerous ways to make materials accessible to your students, many of which depend on the technology you have available in your classroom. Let’s first talk about the non-technological distribution methods.
If you are relying on paper for most of your materials, keep a bank of file folders in an organizational rack. The folders need to be clearly labeled by assignment. As students work through an assignment, all they have to do is go to the correct folder to access what they need. If students miss a class or two, it’s easier for them to consult the folder for their missing work than to interrupt you in the middle of class.
If you do have some technology at your disposal, there are plenty of free methods to distribute materials, many of which are used in a professional setting. You might have a classroom website where things can be posted and downloaded. Perhaps you can start a folder or a folder system, similar to the physical method mentioned above, on Google Drive. Or you can write a blog post on your classroom blog for each assignment, providing directions and links to needed materials for download.
Things that might trip you up
The first thing that can complicate some of the systems above is timing. If you release everything at the beginning of a unit or assignment, there’s nothing stopping the high-performing students from working ahead and then becoming bored when they finish. Release materials on a certain schedule, and you will frustrate any student whose timetable doesn’t match up with yours. The best solution probably is to make your timetable as rigorous as the majority of the class can handle and then set aside some time for individualized help with the struggling students.
The second problem is mostly related to the paper-based classroom, and it’s as old as education itself: “I lost it.” There will always be students whose organizational skills are less than optimal. You can’t make unlimited copies of materials without going over budget. Make it a point of giving some organizational instruction early in the year (during the expectations time of tip #1), and then touch on those ideas throughout the school year.
Want to see more of the instructional strategies the Marzano Research Laboratory determined in the study? See all 13 Marzano best practices in online learning here.
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