What tools might provide me insight into the learners in my classroom and how might I use this information?
An effective educator is in tune with her students’ strengths, interests, and needs. He does his best to not only keep his teaching accurate, but also engaging. But first, they have to get to know their students. It takes time to build relationships with students and to establish a respectful and trusting relationship. While this is all good, it does not necessarily help with time constraints and planning. So what is a teacher to do?
USE THE INTERNET!!! Thank you technology! The information available at the human fingertips is astounding. Very much like any other powerful force, it can be used for good, of it can be used for evil. Here are some ways to utilize this resource for good, and hopefully developing the best learning plans for students.
There are many learning style inventories available online, but not all are equal. Most can give a fair amount of information. This is at least someplace for the educator to start. Some tests require a purchase, such as Idpride.net. Personally, I don’t really care to pay $9 for a test that the three previous free tests already confirmed. And I can imagine, most schools cannot afford this kind of expense for individual students either. However, I can see the value in such in-depth information. For example, suppose some parents are having difficulty understanding their own child. Such a test could help give these parents an idea how why their child acts/thinks the way that they do.
By going through and these inventories to evaluate them, I found out some interesting information about myself. I am apparently not as picture smart as I originally thought, and I am more of a kinesthetic leaner than I gave myself credit for (http://www.bgfl.org/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks3/ict/multiple_int/what.cfm).
Many of these inventories utilize the VARK model (http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=advice), separating the multiple intelligences in the following categories:
It would seem that few people fall into one specific category, so the educator must be familiar with what each intelligence means as far as creating an effective lesson (http://www.bgfl.org/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks3/ict/multiple_int/what.cfm). These inventories are also helpful in describing some generalities about personalities that often come along with these various learning styles. (On a personal note, all my tests came back that I fit into the group of people that make good teachers, so at least I’m in the right profession).
The inventory on Keirsey.com outlines these temperaments nicely, and make you feel pretty good about yourself too (http://www.keirsey.com/4temps/overview_temperaments.asp).
In Literacy, we’re taught to do reading inventories with our students before me we started so that we can better encourage motivation and engagement. This concept is translatable across all subjects. When the students are interested, it make them far easier to teach. There are numerous inventories available that can be printed off or emailed. Survey Monkey is also a great tool that can be used to do a general interest inventory with the class or to assess learning.
Again, there is just so much out there! The digital age has opened up so many valuable opportunities. It is intimidating to try and keep it all straight, but it is indeed well worth the effort.