SCIENTIFIC-BASED APPROACH TO LEARNING IN A DIGITAL WORLD
Brain-based research emphasizes the fact that ENGAGEMENT must be the goal of all educators. If a student is NOT ENGAGED, their minds wander and effective learning does not take place. When ENGAGED, students are excited to learn. Higher levels of engagement are associated with students who want to learn more and apply what they have learned in the real world.
Wowzers engages students with research-based strategies on how the brain works. We know that every brain is unique, so the strategies we use include a variety of activities that build not only declarative knowledge but also underlying cognitive skills. These activities improve knowledge, along with a variety of cognitive skills, including memory, thinking, processing, sequencing, and attention. The activities also support the systems of learning and the brain, including emotional, social and reflective learning. The physical learning system is included in many of the offline activities.
We recognize that all people absorb information differently, generally through some combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning. The Wowzers program uses all of these approaches in multiple ways.
There are typically three or four questions in the Tryout. The purpose of the Tryout is to determine whether a student needs to go through the lesson. If the student misses even one question, they are sent directly to the lesson. If the student correctly answer all the questions, they automatically move on to the PRACTICE. It is our philosophy that if a student already knows the content they don’t necessarily need to go through the lesson. We want to teach them what they don’t know and then give them the opportunity to apply their knowledge with what they do know. Allowing the student to move at their own pace personalizes the learning process. However, we make sure that the student knows the content as they answer questions in the practice and we gather data on their performance. The system automatically adjusts the content if necessary.
We know that students need to learn specific core math skills that they can then apply to real world problems. The lessons are taught through direct instruction and offer immediate engagement with digital manipulatives as the content is being taught. Students receive immediate feedback and move at their own pace, free of the fear of failing and satisfying both the cognitive and the emotional part of the brain. These core skills that have developed can then be applied to our other offline and online activities that focus on problem solving, communication and creativity.
After the lesson, students immediately move on to the practice. In the practice, we are able to determine what the students have learned. Students need practice on specific skills so they can easily and more quickly apply the knowledge to solve problems critically and creatively. The practices in Wowzers are adaptive. Students are given either harder or easier questions depending on how they have answered the questions. The number of practice problems they are given also varies based on their performance. Students continue to receive immediate feedback about their answers. A student must pass the practice by 70%. If they don’t pass by 70%, they are immediately sent to a remediation video.
The remediation video was created to give those struggling students yet another way of learning the content. The “chalkboard” approach combines visual and auditory methods of learning, and gives the student one more opportunity to learn the content. After watching the remediation video the student is then sent back to the practice to answer questions that they previously answered incorrectly. If they are still unable to answer correctly, the teacher receives an alert and is able to create a new path for the student .
ENGAGEMENT IS KEY! Our students today are digital natives and gaming is a big part of their lives. Gaming in education may just need to be the disruptive change that education needs. Student engagement through games results in learning new math concepts and cognitive skills. The games improve students’ memory, attention, sequencing, thinking, processing and concentration.
The quest is the ”buy-in” for the student. Students take their own avatar that they created through a problem-solving adventure where they help characters in various careers use math concepts that were taught in the lesson. Students see the meaning for the math that they have learned. Through engagement, students find excitement in learning. This unique story-driven approach to the content, with the inclusion of their own avatar, allows the student’s immediate sensory memory to store the correct information.
Wowzers is driven to assess and collect accurate data on each student’s success. Data helps teachers create individual learning paths so that all students are successful at mastering content. Wowzers’ assessments mirror those found on PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and other state assessments that students are now taking. All question types are covered so that students have the experience and practice that prepares them for the core assessments and allows Wowzers to collect accurate information about their true knowledge. Repetition and practice improve memory and processing (procedural memory/knowing how) so that students can concentrate on answering the content questions without having to figure out how to manipulate the technology, giving us a clearer picture of what they know and don’t know.
Data on student achievement is reported on the Teacher Dashboard. Wowzers also provides a bank of 300 practice questions for each grade level. These new types of questions can actually stand alone as learning tools for students. Using the online manipulatives (such as clicking and dragging, placing numbers on a number line, etc.) gives us a much more accurate picture of how the student is understanding the concept versus the old method of filling in a bubble. The extended response questions give students the opportunity to go through the process of explaining their process and making sense of the math they are learning.
DOWNLOADABLE SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL
We are firm believers in a blended learning approach to learning. Developing problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and creativity are important to brain development. Many of our offline activities get students moving, discussing, and thinking about how to apply the math they have learned, thus meeting the Standards of Mathematical Practice.
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