VIDEO: Student Choice Equals Higher Engagement

VIDEO: Student Choice Equals Higher Engagement in East, West ASL
Posted on 12/20/2019
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Modeled after the options they are now giving their students, the American Sign Language (ASL) teaching team at both Lakota East and Lakota West high schools have come up with their own “playlist” of lessons to share among their classes. 

That’s because the team has discovered the value in collaborating across building lines. It’s a strategy they adopted several years ago, but that has most recently helped elevate their efforts to introduce more personalized learning models into their classrooms. 

“As a department, we’re all working together to experiment with all the different pathways of personalized learning,” said Lakota West ASL teacher Jessica Frye. The team’s collaborative approach has allowed them to simultaneously dive into three of the four “plays” that Lakota is encouraging all Lakota teachers to experiment with this school year. Strategies like station rotations, flexible playlists and flipped classrooms give students more choice in and ownership of their learning. 

“By allowing students to have more choice, it shows in the product that they create because they’re a bit more interested in what they’re doing when I give them the option,” said Lakota East ASL teacher Jessica Snyder

“I see students being more empowered, more excited and more motivated to focus on what we’re learning because they have the choice and they have the flexibility to make it their own,” Frye added. 

Case in point was a recent project the department led that challenged students to choose an organization in the deaf community that aligned with one of their interests. “Instead of me getting 100 powerpoints, I was able to learn about my students beyond ASL,” noted Snyder, explaining that students chose to share their research through artwork, videos, writing and all types of other media. 

Furthermore, the project served as a springboard for building deeper relationships with their students, the foundation to any personalized learning model. Snyder explained that it has allowed her to relate to her students more and even make deeper connections with the content that she teaches. 

Lab days have become a staple for the East and West ASL team. One day a month, students from all different levels of ASL intermingle, giving them a chance to converse with other teachers, students and even deaf members of our community. On occasion, that includes bringing East and West students together too - either in person or via Skype conversations. 

“It’s nice to interact with other students from different schools that still have the same goals in their class,” said Lakota West senior Gianna Conklin. “I just appreciate being able to meet new people while also working on what we need to get done.” 

Lab days also incorporate station rotations, allowing students to learn a concept or practice their vocabulary in a multitude of ways, including in-person or Skype conversations, games, videos, worksheets and more. Students might be grouped according to skill level and be given slightly different tasks at each station to better meet their learning needs.  

“A lot of people learn differently, so being able to have the choice for how you’re going to be able to go throughout the lesson and what you’re learning makes it easier for some students to learn,” said Lakota West junior Hayden Yoho

Flexible playlists yield a similar outcome, not only giving students more choice, but also allowing them to work at their own pace. The strategy simply offers a student a list of options to get to the same outcome. 

“We don’t all do the same thing,” said Lakota West junior Disyiah Myers. “We do stuff that we need help in.” 

The ASL team also employs a flipped classroom on occasion, which asks students to watch videos - sometimes at home and other times in class - so that they can practice what they learn in class with their teacher and classmates. 

Lakota East Bryce Smith appreciates the approach, saying, “It’s kind of like a class where we teach each other.” Part of their flipped classroom experience includes learning, through video, a collection of vocabulary terms and then teaching them to his classmates. 

All three models ultimately create less teacher-directed, lecture style learning, giving teachers the flexibility to float around the room and work one-on-one with their students. 

“I appreciate being able to talk to teachers and have them explain and give one-on-one time. Ms. Frye is really good at focused learning with just me,” Conklin said. 

Watch this video to see the East and West ASL team’s personalized learning strategies in action. Check out the complete video series about personalized learning at Lakota.