10 Ways Schools Can Improve Student Learning
Every school should have a professional inquiry class, or BIS. I want to emphasize the word “Professional.” This is not just another boring subject or class to be studied in line for SATs and graduations. BIS, or even POP classes (Personalized Investigations), is about using reason and critical thinking skills as tools for teaching kids to analyze and think for themselves about data-driven challenges in any topic in which they are interested. So, starting a class based on an inquiry-based model is exciting because you can impact kids’ lives in so many ways:
1. Teaching Coded Data
Although coding isn’t a new skill, as people have moved away from programming, more and more schools are giving students the chance to learn how to code. In fact, if you’re not a C++ programmer, choose a language you’re passionate about and teach kids to write code that relates to their interest. You could begin with basic examples and then work your way up. If you’re not a coder, then encourage students to get out of the classroom and look at code and create their own projects.
2. Introducing Kids to Data-Driven Choices
When you introduce kids to evidence-based decision-making and using data to make choices, it can help them to become motivated learners who want to be deliberate about their decisions throughout life. You could encourage kids to research potential solutions to challenges at home or in other spaces outside the classroom, and have them run through a process for explaining different possibilities to get them curious about different methods of choosing and evaluating options.
3. Teaching Graphic Presentation Skills
You don’t need to build a lot of elaborate presentations in class to be effective. You could set up a slide show with images from an assignment or idea page, video clips or animations, samples of a topic that is being discussed, and an example of an effective visual communication tool that your class may be interested in.
4. Creating a Business-like System for Data-Driven Decision-Making
When kids find a solution to a problem, they look for evidence to support it. For example, a social media company might want to know whether a baby vaccination causes behavior changes in a baby’s social interaction skills. Instead of asking each child separately, ask them all to solve the problem in a co-ordinated fashion. Then, document what they did and how well they did it.
5. Encouraging Students to Take Constructive Outcomes-Based Measures
Taking intentional measurements to look at a process or a behavior means that kids will have more access to data and more objective information about how their behavior impacted the outcome. In my course, we had the students do a 360 feedback on one of our kids, which included finding areas of improvement in areas he’d excelled at and areas he needed to improve on. Later, we examined the data from this review and used the results in writing a lesson to help him improve one particular trait. The result is that students noticed what they did right, and they got praise from teachers and peers for that behavior.
6. Teaching Kids to Respond to Study Objectives
This can be done in a variety of ways, including asking for student answers to study objectives in class or in an online review. Research has shown that by having students write out each question and answering it, they’re more likely to actually do that task than if there is an academic goal to achieve.
7. Improving School Attendance
It’s not just about keeping kids in school. Kids who are able to focus for eight hours at school are less likely to have unhealthy interactions at home. By empowering kids to ask the right questions and to pursue the evidence-based solutions that align with their interests, you can help them to build stronger, more healthy relationships at home and with their families.
8. Promoting Attendance, in-School and Out-of-School Fitness
If you have students who are physically overweight or who have any health problems that compromise their performance in school, working with them to track how much they are exercising, dieting, or sleeping the recommended eight hours per night can have a positive impact on both of those areas. It’s also important to help teens understand the importance of being active outside the classroom as well—in-school and out of school.
9. Discussing Ethics and Civil Liberties
Schools that teach inquiry-based, case-based coursework often lead students to analyze and debate the meaning and important values of certain concepts. Asking kids to think about whether or not this thought-provoking activity is appropriate in today’s society may help them build critical thinking skills about their beliefs.
10. Becoming a Clinical or Pediatrician
When kids know what health