Ammie Berglund is a Lecturer in Biology and Chemistry at Katedralskolan in Uppsala, Sweden; a secondary school with a focus on theoretical education within the humanities and natural sciences. Ammie knows that it’s important for her students to improve their reading comprehension and study skills before attending university. Therefore, she tries to motivate them to read science texts and reflect upon how they study. To help them do this, she uses itslearning’s explaining sequence tool.
It works like an electronic textbook
This tool acts a bit like an electronic textbook which you can set-up to explain theoretical concepts. Students are only allowed to go to the next chapter if they understand what they’ve already read. This ensures that they grasp each concept before they try to advance through the lesson.
To create an itslearning explaining sequence, you set up a number of ‘steps’ for your student to work through. Each step includes an explanation of a new theoretical concept (which can include video, text, PDFs, links, etc.) and a multiple choice concept check question. Students study the theory and try to answer the question. If they get the answer right, they move on to the next step. If they get it wrong, they get a hint. If they still can’t answer the question, they must go through the material again or ask for your help.
Here an example of how one teacher set-up part of an explaining sequence.
Students are better prepared for class
Ammie uses the explaining sequence tool to encourage her students to take responsibility for their own learning. Previously, when she asked her pupils to read a text in advance of class, only a few would do it. Many more of her students do the reading now that it’s formatted as an explaining sequence.
If the students need assistance while working, they email Ammie through itslearning. She answers their questions and emails her responses to the whole class. In this way, her students are better prepared for the upcoming class. “Prepared pupils are in general more active during lessons,” Ammie remarks.
It's worth the effort
Ammie uses the itslearning survey tool during courses to find out how she should adapt her teaching strategies. In these surveys the students often tell her that explaining sequences help them study. “My students are very positive to this learning method,” she adds.
It takes time to make high quality explaining sequences, but Ammie says having them is well worth the effort required to make them. Once finished, they can be stored with your itslearning files, shared with colleagues and reused in future years. She and her colleagues upload them to a common “teacher course” to be shared, adapted and updated. Their “teacher course” has folders containing various exercises made with itslearning tools. It's a valuable source of shared materials.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of how to create an explaining sequence, you can find one here.
Preparing for tests with the itslearning discussion tool
Ammie uses the discussion tool to help her students prepare for exams. She makes study questions and asks each student to answer one of them. Students must then start a discussion thread with their question as the heading and their answer underneath. Classmates must comment on each other’s answers. Ammie checks all content and provides clarification when necessary.
She finds that some students who are shy about speaking in class are better at expressing themselves in writing. They feel more comfortable participating in online discussions. Students who are still reluctant to participate are allowed to post their comments anonymously.
Please feel free to share your experience with explaining sequences and the discussion tool in the comments area below.
Posted on Wed, July 24, 2013
by Leslie Ahern