March 19, 2015
A Mississippi Teacher Flips Test Review
(Originally titled “Snowstorms and Studying Breakthroughs”)
In this Education Update article, high-school teacher Lillian Sims says she’d reached an impasse with her twelfth grade British literature class: “They wanted a spoon-fed curriculum and I wanted to teach without sacrificing rigor.” A quarter of her students weren’t on track to pass, and some left her test papers completely blank. But then a freak snowstorm cancelled school for two days and Sims tried something new to help students prepare for an upcoming test. She recorded a brief video of herself paging through the textbook noting key items, summarized historical events and poems, suggested an acronym to remember titles in a logical sequence, and showed how each poem fit into the unit’s themes. She uploaded the video to YouTube and alerted her students about it by e-mail, Facebook, Remind, and Twitter.
When school re-opened, students said they loved the video and wanted her to do it again for future tests. What was the big deal? Sims wondered – all she’d done was review what they’d already heard in class. But then she understood: “[I]t wasn’t hearing me talk all over again that had helped; it was seeing me demonstrate how I ‘study.’ My students didn’t need help with literature; they needed help with how to learn.” For the rest of the year, Sims made a regular routine of uploading study videos, and the results were dramatic. Test grades improved by two letter grades, failures dropped from 15 to 4, every student tried hard, and the number of As went from 6 to 33 percent of the class.
“Snowstorms and Studying Breakthroughs” by Lillian Sims in Education Update, March 2015 (Vol. 57, #3, p. 8), http://bit.ly/1Li2OCP; Sims can be reached at Lillian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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