[Student Engagement] Using Plato Courseware for Winter Break Concept Recovery

Thursday, December 8, 2016 -- Regina Waddell

For most middle and high school students, the winter break means the end of the semester—time to put finals and the previous semester behind for a fresh start in the new year. However, most core content courses are two semesters long; so, for students who struggled during the first semester, the break can be a difficult moment. Not only do they have a bad grade hanging over their heads, but they also have the stress of feeling ill-prepared to be successful throughout the rest of the school year.

With Plato Courseware, you can work with struggling students over the winter break to help them master the topics they struggled with in the first semester and possibly earn some extra credit to boost their grades. You’ll all return to the classroom feeling more confident and positive about the new semester!

Identify Learning Gaps

The first step to helping struggling learners is identifying their areas of need. Edmentum Sensei offers a variety of user-friendly reports to help you access and act on your students’ data. Review their performance on specific topics, or analyze their performance on the cumulative semester exam. Either way, use the results to identify three to four topics for each student that he or she needs to master in order to be successful in the next semester.

Use Flex Assignments for Personalized Content

Once you have determined each student's weak areas, create personalized assignments based on these topics using the Flex Assignments feature in Plato Courseware. Remember, don't give students more than three to four topics total; the break is only two weeks long, and you want to make sure that students still have time to spend with their families and rest.

Give Students Clear Instructions and Incentives

Because the semester is over, it may be difficult for students to understand why it makes sense for them to continue working over their break. So, it's very important before you send students off with their assignments to make sure that they understand the expectations and how it benefits them to meet those expectations. Depending on how grading works in your district, you may be able to offer students some extra credit toward their first semester grades. For students who didn't pass the semester, this will be invaluable, as it can mean they won't have to make up an entire semester. If this isn't possible, consider offering students points toward the upcoming semester so that they have an opportunity to start out ahead instead of behind. Whichever incentive you choose, be sure that students understand it and what exactly they need to do to meet expectations.

Schedule Individual Follow-Up Meetings for Struggling Students

After the break, schedule time to meet with each student who worked on review topics. In this meeting, review the expectations, the student's results, and the incentive received. Additionally, use this meeting as an opportunity to prepare the student for what will be coming in the next semester. Talk about what topics and skills he or she can expect to work on, and review options to receive extra help if he or she is having trouble, such as after-school tutoring or open office hours. This can help prevent the student from falling behind in the new semester.

Using the winter break to allow students to review and receive credit for concepts that they didn’t master during the first semester can be a great strategy to increase motivation and teach students about the importance of hard work and persistence. Plato Courseware makes it easy for you, as educators, to identify students in need of these opportunities and deliver high-quality instruction to them outside of the classroom. Ready to get started? Learn more about Plato Courseware here!