As a teacher, I have always struggled to maximize the limited time I have with my students. No matter how much time I get, I always feel like I could use more! There is just so much learning to do, and so little time to do it in. One of the best ways I have found to get the most out of my instructional time is to really try to tailor the teaching to my students in every way possible. Yes, it's true that I can't change the curriculum... no matter how much I want to at times. However, I can modify my instruction to include different styles, activities, and assessment to best suit their needs. How can I found out what their needs are? Student learning inventories!
The learning inventory is a short questionnaire designed to help teachers identify the learning style of their students. It's a simple "check the box" type of assessment which is pretty quick to administer. There are about a million versions out there to try, based upon the grade level you teach and if you have technology available to you or not. Here are a few favorites of mine:
Multiple Intelligences Survey (available printable or as a self-calculating excel document)
Learning Style Survey (online)
VARK Learning Questionnaire (online)
Learning Inventory for Older Students (printable)
Mathematical Learning Inventory (printable) *one of my favorites!!
To be honest, most years I pick and choose questions from each of the available tests and create something that I think will appeal to my kiddos the most. Definitely make it your own!
Once we finish assessing ourselves, I have the students determine their learning style based upon the answers they gave. The directions are included in each of the linked inventories. Then, I give the students a short presentation on what it means to be each learning style and what they can do to learn best. Here is an overview of what I use with my kiddos, compiled from several websites:
- use visual materials such as pictures, charts, maps, graphs, etc.
- have a clear view of your teachers when they are speaking so you can see their body language and facial expression
- use color to highlight important points in text
- take notes or ask your teacher to provide handouts
- illustrate your ideas as a picture or brainstorming bubble before writing them down
- write a story and illustrate it
- use multi-media (e.g. computers, videos, and filmstrips)
- study in a quiet place away from verbal disturbances
- read illustrated books
- visualize information as a picture to aid memorization
- participate in class discussions/debates
- make speeches and presentations
- use a tape recorder during lectures instead of taking notes
- read text out aloud
- create musical jingles to aid memorization
- create mnemonics to aid memorization
- discuss your ideas verbally
- dictate to someone while they write down your thoughts
- use verbal analogies, and story telling to demonstrate your point
- take frequent study breaks
- move around to learn new things (e.g. read while on an exercise bike, mold a piece of clay to learn a new concept)
- work at a standing position
- chew gum while studying
- use bright colors to highlight reading material
- dress up your work space with posters
- if you wish, listen to music while you study
- skim through reading material to get a rough idea what it is about before settling down to read it in detail.
As a teacher, I use this info to help guide me through lesson planning. Of course, I can't meet every student's individual learning style every lesson, but understanding where my kids are at helps me break down my planning and tailor as many lessons as I can to as many kiddos as I can.
So, there it is- one of most informative and useful back to school activities!