Warm up to the connections in your class
I’m still very much enjoying the idea of starting each class off with a warm up activity. A short question that students answer and we then discuss as a class. I collect the index cards and I can get a pretty accurate sense of both how well a student understands an idea, and how well a student is able to use information from our discussion to help improve his or her understanding.
I also like using these warm up activities to ask students more metacognative questions. Here’s a recent one I used:
Please tell me a story of a time in the past 9 weeks when another student particularly contributed to your understanding of physics.
Student responses to this question were rich and varied. It helped me to see a number of connections in my classroom where students where going far out of their way to help each other learn. In a few cases, it alerted me to students who may be disconnected from this network when they couldn’t cite anyone who contributed to their learning.
I was also able to take this feedback and follow up on it with short thank you emails to students who were mentioned in the card, and this got a few thank yous to my thank yous from kids. It was a small gesture, for sure, but I do think it is useful to find ways to recognize and show appreciation for helping your peers to learn, if we truly wish to create student centered classrooms and get past relying on me to dispense all the knowledge.