Over the last few years, Dave McDivitt’s done a great job of finding ways to incorporate video games into his instruction. And I’ve had the chance to “listen in” on what’s he’s doing through his site. (Especially enjoyed some of his conversations about the use of The Sims as a tool in his Sociology classes!)

One of Dave’s most recent posts really caught my eye. It has nothing to do with video games but everything to do with learning and good staff development.

His school, like many others, sent its students home Friday afternoon and spent that time doing staff development. But with a twist I’ve never heard before:

The idea was very simple . . . the administration had asked a group of students to stay for the afternoon (of course they were bribed a bit with pizza) and meet with teachers to tell us what they see as good things that teachers do in the building and what things that maybe they don’t like.

I love this!

What better way to get a sense of how you’re doing as a teacher than to ask those being taught. I have heard of teachers doing student evaluations but have never seen an example like this where the entire school shuts down to talk to kids.

So how did it go? Well, my group of teachers met with two groups of students and the discussions were very good. We actually wanted more time together than was allowed. There was plenty of give and take between teachers and students and no one got offended, no one got upset, no one got personal and the dialogue was very good.

Dave goes on to list the items mentioned by students and when you break it down, it sounds a lot like research-based instruction. I’ve added a bit of commentary to the list:

  1. On-line stuff is good
    (Using technology and the right tools for your audience is a good thing)
  2. Paperwork is boring
    (The brain sees no connection between busy work and learning)
  3. Mix things up to keep it fresh
    (Use “hooks” to engage the brain)
  4. Tell stories and experiences to make it real
    (Emotion and stories are great ways to connect content with students)
  5. Teach us how to study
    (Provide scaffolding and structure to content)
  6. Hands on stuff is effective
    (Doing equals learning)
  7. Don’t lecture all period
    (The brain needs time to “chunk and chew”)

I wish we would do this more often. Kids do have good things to say and we need to find ways to listen.

What do your kids say? What can we learn from what they are telling us?