to read, and they read at their own pace. Periodically, they also wrote summaries and personal reflections. This quarter with The Big Read in Dayton, all of my students were required to read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. She is an author whom I had also met at a conference, and I felt that our students could relate to her memoir. Students love the book, and vibrant class discussions and important summary and reflective writings are taking place. Another plus is the community involvement students have felt because all of Dayton is reading this book. Some of my students saw her presentation at The Greene, met her and got her autograph. One student told me this week that this is the first book he has ever read, and he likes it so much that he bought two additional copies that he sent to friends. Reading guru, Frank Smith, says, “Reading can never be separated from writing or thinking. Reading is thinking.”
There are many other “best practices” with reading, including teaching students to be more active readers by annotating text, utilizing Cornell note taking, using SQ3R, finding main idea, looking for transition words to signal details, and understanding words in context. Our students read, annotate, and take notes on whole chapters of textbooks to replicate what they will be reading and the process of learning for their content courses.
Computer-assisted learning is also such an important best practice tool for student success. Students can access the Internet for information to read and write about, to add dimension to what they are learning in the textbook, research topics, and in working with ANGEL, are able to practice, immediately see their errors in thinking, and get smarter learning from their mistakes before taking a test on any particular concept.
Another important best practice is having the students work with the Speed Reader program we have in our computer classrooms and also in The Learning Center as they learn that there are strategies they can perfect to read faster and still maintain comprehension. Most of my students in Dev 065, who typically read successfully at 150
wpm, are able to read and comprehend at 400 wpm by the end of the quarter.
I agree with Kim that “our students guide us in our course changes, and we continue to follow that guidance by pulling our best practices from every part of our beings every day we enter the classroom, and they look to us for direction. Here’s hoping we continue to find it.”
And here’s to all my colleagues in the Developmental Studies Department who continue the search for best practices as we all “find the need and endeavor to meet it.”
The current hot topic in education is “best practices.” Educators realize that various approaches can have different outcomes for the students. The DEV Math faculty has come together to put into place many different components that contribute to “best practices” within the area. One of these instituted pieces is a spiraling of content, connecting both tests and homework. Revisiting ideas and skills help to ensure that students continue to use and apply the concepts successfully. To reinforce these ideas and skills and as a way to engage students in active learning, many instructors use partner activities, peer tutoring, group work, and test correction activities. The helix effect resulting from this approach is evident in the creation and implementation of the common exit assessment for all three DEV Math courses. The spiraling of content, active learning activities and a common exit assessment are some examples of “best practices” within the DEV Math area. Ideally, these “best practices” will lead to student success beyond their DEV courses.
Reflections from TLC
There are many “best practices” happening in our department’s learning center, but assessment is one of the most important since the purpose of assessment is to improve students learning while providing