Tish Rezak

Lincoln, NE

Tish Rezak
Schoo Middle School
Lincoln, NE
How do you use Actively Learn in your classroom?

In-class reading, independent reading, and quizzes

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

Lack of engagement, difficulty getting timely feedback to students so that they were willing to return to the text and take another look.

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

Student choice in reading through the Independent Reading Library; scaffolding of questions -- starting closer to the "in the text" answer and moving further away; scaffolding of higher level questions, building students up to an inference with text based evidence; using AL for vocabulary development; using AL for quizzes -- students can have questions "read to" them without me stressing out about getting to all of them; more independence overall in regarding to reading, comprehension, and engagement as well as student accountability

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

I have been very impressed with the way AL has allowed me to formatively assess students' levels of understanding!  I can give timely feedback (close to "real time") and even stop the class for very BRIEF periods  of time to do some clarification or clean up a misunderstanding, or even teach a needed skill IN THE MOMENT, then getting back to the task of reading. My students are better readers, better thinkers, and better writers because of the tools in AL!

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

I assign students to find articles of interest for personal reading, then share those with their classmates; I assign specific articles for students to read and answer questions that I believe help them make connections to the text; I assign tests (that I create) within the AL platform: these could be vocabulary, figurative language, or comprehension type quizzes.

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

Start slow -- add a new feature or idea as you  and your students gain comfort with the platform.  I started with Independent Reading, then began to assign some texts, then started pulling in texts from other resources.  If you stay with it, you will see that your students, like mine, are willing (MOTIVATED!) to return to the text and reread for understanding. My students send revision requests frequently, even after I've accepted their answer, when I give specific feedback on how they can have an even stronger response.  During AL assignments, my room is quiet, students are engaged, and they are eager to see how I comment on their work. I would also suggest really thinking about the DOK level and the type of question you assign. I found I was asking too many short answer questions, and didn't have time to get them read/write a response. I now have a pretty good idea of the ration of Multiple Choice, Poll, and Short Answer types of questions. I also typically begin the text with a poll type question, and then end the assignment with a question that has students refer back to that response and reflect on how their thinking as changed after finishing the passage.