A better use of time would be to suggest tools for how we can learn more about the students who we are charged with their learning. One useful tool is a learning/perceptual survey. We make assumptions about the people who enter our classrooms. Students do the same. In many cases their assumptions were made long before they entered your classroom, based on their experiences, positive and negative, regarding school, subjects, and their capabilities. Having some sense of students' perceptions could go a long way in knowing how best to support them achieving.
Here is a list of potential questions you might ask at the beginning of school, when a new student enters the class, or--as this post occurs in the middle of a school year-- tomorrow. It's never too late to learn more about students.
Pick and choose the questions that best meet your needs. Rewrite and add your own. I'm thinking 4 to 5 questions might be the right balance so as not to overwhelm with tons of writing, and still get depth regarding who they are... plus or minus 2.
Would love to know your stories on your use of surveys, and questions you've used or developed that were helpful.
Sample Student Survey
- 3 traits, others would describe me as:
- 3 traits I would describe myself as:
- 2 or 3 things I like to do outside of school are:
- 2 or 3 things I like to do in school are:
- My favorite subject is:_______________.
- What I like most to do in this subject is:
- What I don't like to do in this subject is:
- class is like to you
- school means to you
Another type of feedback to have is how students learn best. There are many approaches to learning styles. Howard Gardner and Eric Jensen are widely known. I like to mix in Sternberg's Triarchic Theory on Multiple Intelligence and a few others, but that is for another post.
This movie clip shows the value of utilizing a varitey of learning experiences that incorporate learning styles for something as simple(?) as keeping a beat. Also consider the Zen conversation that Mr. Holland has with his Chess buddy. You need only watch for 6 minutes to get the point, although it's a great clip.
Mr. Hollands Opus -
Differentiating based on Understanding a student, and his needs
Here are a list of resources that you may find far more useful than the list of sample questions I've provided. I've explored some more deeply than others, finding some great resources. This is to say as a disclaimer, please review a resource deeply and make your own decision about its value :)
- I Want to Teach Forever: http://www.teachforever.com/2007/08/first-day-of-school-sample-student.html
- Sample 1 : http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfwg6ffr_4cjthtt
- Sample 2 : http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfwg6ffr_5fn5vx2
- A to Z Teacher Stuff: http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=67431
- School Climate Survey: Could be adapted for classroom use. Intended for Elementary.
- Teachers at Risk on "9 Questions I ask my students on the first day of school"
Learning Profile Surveys
- Find your strengths: May be used for secondary students
- What Is My Personal Learning Style? (Builds a visual graph based on each answer)
- 8 Multiple Intelligences Test
- Abiator's Online MI Assessment
- Assessment: Find Your Strength
- Helly Quizzy.com: MI Test
- Intelligence Survey
- Service Canada: Job Bank
- Birmingham Grid for Learning
- My Personality (free registration required)
- The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
- Various Multiple Intelligence Tests (by Businessballs)
- "Does Your Child. . . " (For Parents)
- What's Your Learning Style? (By Edutopia)
- Discovering your SMARTS: A MI Checklist
- Multiple Intelligences Inventory (html version) (Click here for PDF version) from Surfaquarium
- Multiple Intelligences Test (by SPAN)
- Testing yourself: How Are You Smart? by Accellerated Learning Network
- Thomas Armstrong's Multiple Intelligences Checklist @ SUNY Courtland
- Word/Excel/PDF Format