How Are You Learning?

I remember middle school like it was yesterday; I was the student hoping for practical learning opportunities. I would wait anxiously for the teacher to break us into groups to work on a project or lab—it was a much easier for me to learn when I was working in these interactive environments rather than studying a chapter of a book or memorizing content. For me, learning happened through concepts and evidence. It’s why I loved dissecting insects, watching documentaries, and visiting museums. Learning came best by experiences or stories rather than raw data or formulas.

For many of my peers, movie days translated into an opportunity to fall asleep in class. But for me it was the chance to apply learning that we heard about every day. I would geek out about a documentary film relating to a significant moment in history or a case study exploring the nature of physics in a way that a textbook couldn’t capture. That visual learning style stuck with me through college and into my professional career. Fast-forwarding a few-too-many years to today, my learning style has certainly adapted, but those practical roots remain consistent. 

The FIP Video Library is a resource created for those who, like me, learn by seeing. Serving as a supplement to the Foundations of FIP and FIP in Action Modules, this library is meant to tell the stories of teachers from around the state who are using formative instructional practices in their classrooms. Viewers can watch teachers applying what they’ve learned in a way that improves student learning. These short films provide practical examples and takeaways for education improvement, and an affirmation that all of the hard work of integrating Ohio’s New Learning Standards is paying off.

Our first film shoot being featured in the FIP Video Library was with Kate Kennedy, a 6th grade English language arts teacher at Evening Street Elementary in Worthington, Ohio. Prior to her time at Evening Street, Kate co-authored How to Use Value-Added Analysis to Improve Student Learning: A field guide for school and district leaders, so I knew that Kate understood the value of FIP and could showcase it on a day-to-day basis.

We watched as students received immediate feedback on their work, individually catered to their needs. Student ownership of learning was evident as they responded to the stated learning targets with ease and enthusiasm. For me, it had been years since I’d been in a K-12 building, and I was blown away by the new technology, constructed teaching strategies, and incredible knowledge of the students. (Admittedly, though, my eyes navigated towards the cool, handmade building structures made of popsicle sticks in the hallway.) Dipsticks with student names created an opportunity to hear from all students rather than the same two or three voices. Learning targets were posted throughout the room and drove every lesson. When I interviewed students, they could tell me why each learning target was important and how it applied to the writing project they were working on in class.

The Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids will be visiting ten school districts to capture and share short films that will guide educators and encourage formative instructional practices. As Virginia noted in “Practice What You Teach,” educators need access to resources that will challenge them, so that they, too, can take ownership of their learning. Perhaps you were the same middle school student I was, looking for practical application rather than theory or memorization. This video library was made for us.

Access the entire video library on the FIP Your School Ohio website here.