Thursday, January 7, 2016

Using Student Voice in Lesson Design




I’ve heard it said by others, and I’ve been guilty of saying it myself. I think it's natural to share ways in which we personally learn best.

Have you said it? When trying to help students learn what they need to learn?

Things like…
“When the teacher goes over the homework problems, I learn from my mistakes.” 
 “I find that when I make flashcards I remember facts much better.” 
“Writing everything in my agenda is the best way to keep up with information/assignments.” 
“I just can’t read on the screen. I need paper to hold in my hands.”

As teachers, we can project our own learning style into our lesson design. 

Sometimes it happens subconsciously and sometimes, unfortunately, intentionally. Often, the missing component in our lesson design is the student voice of the person who is doing the learning. 

Doesn’t it make more sense to design lessons based on how students learn best?

How can we know how students learn best? Let’s ask them!


It’s the start of a new semester and calendar year, and it’s a perfect time to re-visit what worked and what didn’t work during the first semester. Reflection, analyzing, learning, planning... they are all part of getting better at what we do. 
To incorporate student voice into lesson design, teachers can give a short survey via a Google Form and collect feedback from students. 

It could be as simple as 3 questions:
1. I wish my teacher would start doing _________. 
2. I wish my teacher would stop doing _________.
3. I learn best in class when _____________.

Here are the students' first 15 answers to Grant Wiggins’ question:
  • i learn best when im doing something i like.
  • the teacher has figured out, through experience, how to teach a class of students about the subject at hand.  Two other things that contributes to my learning is when the teacher and the lessons are in good balance and the students in the class aren’t always talking but also aren’t dead and silent.
  • Im a visual learner i learn best from seeing pictures and presentations.
  • the work is interactive and broken down
  • The teacher is interesting and actually knows a lot more about the topic or subject and can connect it to the real world.
  • When i am active and we are doing something fun that keeps me interested.
  • I am interested and the teacher makes  the class more lively.
  • I can see it,  then practice it myself.
  • We have a hands on experience, real life examples that I can relate to, or having an interesting and fun way to be taught information
  • We do hands on activities instead of taking notes for thirty minutes at a time.
  • I learn better by games and any fun activity that deals with that day’s lesson; this is the reason I do so well in my history class.
  • I can relate to the issues at hand or when I am learning about something that is interesting or it is portrayed to me in an abstract way.
  • We do a lot of examples together and all the content of the lesson is very organized.
  • my teacher explains things one on one
  • hands on and seeing
Wiggins reminds us that what works for some people doesn’t work for others, which means that instruction must be varied and offer choice.


With the start of the new semester upon us, I encourage you to do two things this week...
1. Survey your students for their feedback.
2. Meet with someone to discuss the results – an administrator, instructional coach, or a trusted colleague. They will help you find patterns & gaps and offer suggestions for future lessons.


Teachers, how do you get feedback about your instruction (NOT including students’ grades)?

And how do you use it in lesson design?


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