Elizabeth Hawley

Osceola, AR

Elizabeth Hawley
Osceola STEM Academy
Osceola, AR
How do you use Actively Learn in your classroom?

In-class reading, independent reading, research, and quizzes

What problems were you experiencing in your classroom or school prior to adopting Actively Learn? 

I struggled with students being motivated to search the text for answers or to think deeply. Additionally, students were reluctant to fully answer questions or even answer in complete sentences. 

What solutions did you try to address problems in your school/classroom prior to adopting Actively Learn? 

I tried group and pair reading, as well as Reciprocal Reading strategies. I used varied length and level of articles, reducing questions, and introducing writing prompts. Nothing worked to change their motivation for responding to reading!

How has Actively Learn helped improve your students’ learning and/or your teaching? 

From the first minute that I signed up for Actively Learn, I knew that I would LOVE it. What I didn't know was that my students would respond so well to it! I was introduced to Actively Learn during one of my sessions at the Arkansas Leadership Academy, where I attended this year as a teacher leader. Within five minutes, I had signed up, signed my 85 students up, and assigned their first article. 

Over the next month or so, I learned more about the system. My Literacy Coach and I rejoiced when we realized that not only were standards attached to questions, but that the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels were listed as well. This is phenomenal! To be completely honest, as a second year teacher, this was instructional for me to see examples of DOK level questions. 

If I had to indicate what helped students, it was the ability to receive teacher feedback so quickly. Specifically, while students were working, I would often be on there at the same time, making comments, responding to questions, or grading. The "basic" works well in motivating students at my school. They loved that validation at receiving "proficient" or "advanced" - and would usually attempt to fix their answer. I was also able to use "basic" as a motivator for writing in complete sentences. You have no idea how powerful that is! Last, students appreciated being able to easily see what their grade was - or if they had any questions left to answer.     

Overall, your name is perfect, because all semester my students have actively learned in reading and responding! 

How do you use Actively Learn with your students? What type of content do you assign? 

I have used Actively Learn for classwork and for quizzes. Some students have completed it for homework. I even used it for sub work and I was at home in bed responding to their answers! I used varied articles - short (1-2 pages) and long (4-8) as well as I added a couple of free novels. I used nonfiction informational and fiction. My students loved the high interest articles.   

What advice would you have for teachers who are new to Actively Learn? 

I would tell them the same thing that I have done with the teachers here at STEM and at OHS...SIGN UP! You won't regret it. The articles are so varied - and you can always add your own!